(Very) Locally Grown

I just read about what is being called a supply chain revoluiton in the US. It's an interesting idea and it might ever work better in Nicaragua. Strange as this sounds, the concept is to grow food crops on the roof of supermarkets.

The company that started this is named Bright Farms. What the company does is to construct the farms and train local farmers. The supermarket supplies the space and agrees to buy the products. There is more information, including a TED video about this on Next World TV.

What does his company do differently? They build greenhouse farms, on the property of supermarkets! They build on the roof, at their distribution centers, in their communities. They enable the stores to offer fresh produce, picked that day right on the property, for the same price as tasteless produce being shipped in from Mexico, California or Arizona. The shorter and vastly simpler supply chain enables them to be price competitive.

What a unique business model: Bright Farms puts up the money for these greenhouse farms. They build the facility, and train local farmers. The stores simply commit to buying the produce.

The video talks about why this concept makes sense. But it may be even better in Nicaragua.

  • Nicaragua weather should make it cheaper and more efficient to implement this here rather than, for example, in Boston.
  • There is a problem with rural folks selling the farm, moving to the city and being unemployable. This could address that issue.

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Local Growing

This is a fabulous idea. Hard to implement, but if the new groovy Walmart MUST move to CA, they should be required to grow food on the roof or contract for a percentage of food sales from local growers.


other than costing money

or punishing Walmart for being successful, what would be the point to growing on the roof when the country is full of unused or poorly managed farmland, with plenty of it within the immediate vicinity of the cities?

PS--have you ever sen a Nicaraguan roof?

``Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples` money``

Margaret Thatcher

As I said

"There is a problem with rural folks selling the farm, moving to the city and being unemployable. This could address that issue." But, the main thing is that being local is a big plus both in quality but in eliminating the need to transport things.

Let me compare this to US-ish city zoning ordinances. It is common to have residential zones where they can be no business or at least no business where there are deliveries or customers coming there. On paper it is logical but it significantly increases the need for more roads, parking lots and such. The Nicaragua model where there is a local store selling what people need regularly on almost every block is much more efficient. Both for the consumer but also for the business owner because they don't need two places plus maybe a guard to watch the business when they are at home.

I don't know the current status but Seattle was looking into zoning changes to create this more community-oriented situation. Besides small stores selling food and such, this works well for service businesses such as a barber shop.

Jane Jacob in "Death and Life of the Great American Cities"

observed that cities were safer when there was multiple use -- no need for cars (which is a way of being secure without having viable working neighborhoods). Even my very well off dentists are living behind the clinic, and the ultrasound doctor is living next door to his. Zoning ordinances were created to push artificially inflated values for some land. In some areas of the US, the automobile industry bought up the public transport systems to destroy them.

Jinotega has some people growing more than a household's worth of tomatoes on the outskirts of town, lots of people growing fruit trees in town. At least some of the door to door vendors walk their produce into town from where it's grown.

Rebecca Brown

Dirt Roof To Go

with the dirt floor. More joy for the campo. That's going to go over really big.

Jaime Wheelock could manage the implementation; his experience in the campo is undisputed. He'll tell Wal-Mart what they can sell for, and what they have to pay for the product. Buy high, sell low,,the key to socialist business success, like the Polish watermelon sellers: we'll make it up tomorrow on the increased volume.

I don't remember that in Das Kapital, but it must be there. I don't think that even Karl was that poor an economist.

Are they going to put the dirt on the zin, or do they have something more creative in mind (mud and wattle)?

A composting toilet in each shack, for cost-free, natural fertilizer. Seems like someone's dream (not mine).

Latest thing in the PRK

Stores can no longer give out plastic bags. Seems like a good idea because landfills are full of plastic which does not decay.

But no good deed can go unpunished by the social engineers. The stores are required to charge 10 cents for each paper bag. They have no option of giving it away free if they want to. Then it goes deeper-- the 10 cents has to go into a separate company bank account and be used for ''environmental education''. I wonder which watermelon environmentalist is going to decide the political correctness of the ''environmental education''?

Growing locally may be a great homeowner thing, but commercial growing needs economy of size to work. A better plan would be to have agricultural reserves right next to cities to get the economy of size with the reduced shipping costs. This is a touchy subject unless you can get buyin from the farmers, which is not likely because their property rights will be severely damaged by not being able to sell their land to the highest bidder. It is most applicable to utility easements and flood plains that cannot be developed for urban growth.

`Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples` money``

Margaret Thatcher

UN studies have disproven the economy of scale thing in...

…agriculture. China read the first one and began dismantling collective farms (the most productive farm per acre is one family family with no more than one farm hand -- profits and productivity in farming don't tend to be aligned closely and can be inversely related). New study shows that the farm will be even more productive sustainably if it doesn't buy petro-chemical based insecticides and fertilizers.

Some cultures (including Israel) work with long term leases rather than out and out property ownership, which seems to work quite well for Israeli food production.

Scale works well for fewer people while impoverishing the people who actually do the work. State or corporate farms. Slavery worked very well for the slave owners, whose families still have the capital accumulated by not paying the self-sustaining help.

Rebecca Brown


Growing locally may be a great homeowner thing, but commercial growing needs economy of size to work.

As the talk explains, the stores only need to agree to buy the product that is produced and make the space available. The company (that is, the one that came up with this idea) then deals with building what is needed and training employees. So, it is them, not the store, who is taking a chance. It sounds like it is working.

Where is the economy of scale in larger commercial growing operations? The only possible thing I see is employee expense and clearly that is a lot lower in Nicaragua than in the US. In addition, I don't see the roof of a Managua supermarket (and possibly over the parking area) as small in terms of a hydroponic farm.

They do...

Walmart supports many cooperativas in Nicaragua & CA (especially female operated) and helps them (and themselves) to grow quality produce.