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Monroe County Uses Federal Aid to Bolster Hydroponic Farm Program

By Randy Gorbman

A program in Rochester that uses a hydroponic farm to bring fresh produce to various parts of the city and the county recently got a big boost.

It’s called “The Farm,” and that program, run by Volunteers of America Upstate New York, is located on Lake Avenue in the northwest quadrant of the city. The operation now includes two large freight containers outfitted with hydroponic growing systems that can be in use year-round.

Last week Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced that more than $1.2 million from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds was being allocated to help expand that program. He said the expansion will help combat food insecurity by growing fresh produce for distribution to disadvantaged populations throughout the county.

“No family or child in our community, should go home hungry,” said Bello.

Junior Dillion is the President & CEO of Volunteers of America Upstate New York, and he said the produce grown in the freight containers on Lake Ave. provide a crucial need in the city.

“This is a very impoverished and economically challenged section of the city… some will consider it a food desert, there's only one small grocery store available here,” said Dillion, who added that, “We know that transportation is a huge issue here in the city as well, only one in four residents having transportation.”

It’s estimated the expanded hydroponic growing operation can produce 4 to 8 tons of fresh food each year.

Dillion said the program will also help with vocational and other opportunities for veterans.

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