aquaponics plants
GREEN POWER: Greenlords Inc. started small by converting a 20-by-25-foot storage room into a fully functioning aquaponics system with more than 1,000 tiny vegetable and spice plants.

Urban farming project: Raising hopes and greens

Four Galesburg, Ill., brothers will use aquaponics to teach youth about growing food, nutrition and business.

Galesburg, Ill.-based Greenlords Inc. was established in February 2017. Its goal? To deliver year-round fresh produce to restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets while giving 15 to 20 students a chance to learn how to produce their own food. Greenlords Inc. is partnering with the Galesburg Youth Athletic Club to offer more than a place to go after school and boxing lessons. The students will learn about nutrition, business and aquaponics.

Demarkius Medley explains how his mom moved him and his three younger brothers out of Chicago and away from a rough city life. Growing up, Medley, Durell Butler, Sam Medley and Kelvin Medley all spent time in after-school programs. “They kept us out of trouble,” Medley says.

The brothers are actively involved with GYAC and look forward to adding aquaponics to the existing after-school program. They’ve started small by converting a 20-by-25-foot storage room into a fully functioning aquaponics system with more than 1,000 tiny vegetable and spice plants.

FRESH: Demarkius Medley, Greenlords Inc., checks basil and salad greens.  

1st commercial crop
Zoning was a real challenge for Greenlords. The small aquaponics farm was housed in a residential area, not a commercial zone. Medley says they weren’t able to sort out the proper permits until the end of the summer, when they served their first commercial crop at the 2017 Knox County Farm Bureau farm-to-fork event. At the end of August, they sold collard greens, mustard, salad greens and basil at the Galesburg Farmers Market. Medley was overwhelmed by the interest and support for their products and their cause. “We completely sold out,” he says.

After receiving such positive feedback, Medley knew they were on the right track. The four brothers had a vision, and they needed the right space to realize their dream.

Greenlords purchased 4 acres at the end of September, where they plan to build a greenhouse with enough room for fish tanks, plant beds and the after-school program for youth to learn and grow food together.

Medley says they are still working on building plans and permits from the city of Galesburg, but they hope to break ground soon. “It’s unfortunate we won’t get it running as soon as we’d like,” he notes. “But when we get it up and running, we’re really going to blow them away.”

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