Urban Food Lab, an aquatic farming upstart near Philadelphia’s Cobb’s Creek neighborhood, aims to employ as many as 50 workers and harvest more than 7,000 pounds of produce annually in an impoverished area identified as a bona fide food desert. It’s a lofty goal, and the group is close to achieving it. And a lot of the credit goes to an illicit pot-growing operation that was busted last year in the nearby city of Chester. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the commercial-grade grow lamps, industrial generators, and yards of PVC pipe that keep Urban Food Lab growing are the spoils reaped from a raid on the clandestine facility that was cultivating a cash crop worth more than $43,000.
Now that same high-tech gear that criminals were leveraging to produce high-grade, indoor bud helps provide poor neighborhood families with fresh vegetables, like kale, various lettuces, peppers, and collard greens. And soon the aquatic farm will also start reeling in tilapia that it’s simultaneously raising in the recirculating ecosystem that’s spread out over two floors.
The deal to hand over the indoor horticulture gear seized from the weed farmers was cut by a local law-enforcement official who just so happened to get his hair cut at a shop owned by Urban Food Lab’s executive director’s brother. Talk about pot luck!