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Green City Farms: Here for today. Here for the future.

Green City Farms: Here for today. Here for the future.

On a balmy- winter afternoon, in a home as animated as he is, Mario Athens, founder and CEO at Green City Farms gave us his whirlwind description of what his entry into the business of agriculture consulting was like. Agriculture consulting is the skill of providing farm based information to anyone wanting to farm, sustainable foods. What makes this product stand out however, is the stance taken on what a sustainable farming should be and how it should look.

Green City Farms are here, there and everywhere. From rooftops, to alleyways, Mario and his team have created organic niche systems in the city, that counter the more traditional settings on land, to anywhere imaginable. They have shaped what was unconventional at first, to what is now vital for the future of farming, as we know it.

A few years ago, Mario worked in the engineering consultation field for TM Engineering, as a sales man, shaping the future of where that company would go. By grabbing business and suppliers and by finding the cheapest most effective ways to build different elements of that business, his love for the building and creating of anything and everything began to grow. Mario had kept his side projects and studies, in vet nary crop protection and agricultural growth, behind the scenes for two years until he felt it he felt it was necessary to start his own venture. “I said to myself, let’s do something in agriculture and make a difference” he then added “so that’s what we- myself and my team- did, we started experimenting in all things Hydroponic, I had built my first system consisting of a mere 200 heads of lettuce- which was quite a big system for a pilot test- right here on the tennis court in our family home.” The system though faulty at times, grew into what it is today; successful. After two to three years of testing, Mario had got the notion into his head that if he expanded his knowledge base through travel in and out of the country, it would lead to his eventual success, which is what he did and what his company became.

You’ll hardly ever find Mario in the same place, town or country, he moves here, there and everywhere like the structure of his product. “I travel yearly and shape-shift into any position required of me, at which ever farm I visit. From those that specialize in fruits, nuts, to even the more controversial farms that focus on the likes of marijuana. I go through all different factories and well, learn.” said Mario. This manner of back and forth education did wonders for his visions, plans and investments in serious systems for supply into the South African market. With the likes of friends and family affiliated within the business of vegetables, he was able to tap in and groom his product from there.

The way in which this system works is simple; you have a feedback system which is automated to feed the plants being grown from what- at first glance- looks to be a vertical book shelf with pipes running down its back. As Mario describes it “The pipes are placed alongside the wall, they then have little holes which are left open for the plants to fit in and everything from there is done in the pipes. The water runs within the pipes, the plants are on the outside with their roots facing in, so when the water filters down, each any every root is fed, leaving no trace of water on the outside.  This process of farming was initiated by many so that farms could be left alone- free soil and nutrient erosion by over farming- to replenish themselves, away from artificial fertilizers.

By the time his user- friendly method was perfected, people from far and wide reached out in favour of his product, transforming Green City Farms into a cult favourite and niche preference. From the likes of Maboneng in Johannesburg, South Africa, to office parks in San Diego, America, his vertical farms are certainly moving him and his team up the wall and over to greener pastures, well into the future. With his “pick it and eat it” concept, Mario along with his with Green City Farms, hope to change the way people and their countries; see farming, grow their products and consumer their food, in the freshest and most affordable way. The way in which he believes, all deserve, today and everyday into the future. 

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