For several years now Shawn Cooney of Corner Stalk Farms has been quietly growing fresh green-leaf vegetables inside old shipping containers that have been repurposed to grow year round crops down on Condor Street along Chelsea Creek.
Cooney’s Corner Stalk, that recently opened a fresh veggie stand at the Boston Public Market downtown, specializes in using Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). Cooney said LED lighting, temperature control and automatic water flow within insulated shipping containers creates the ideal environment that leafy greens need. A year round growing season and dense planting allow maximum productivity so when there’s a blizzard or heat wave, Cooney is still harvesting delicious leafy greens.
However, part of urban farming is making the business sustainable for the longterm. With medicinal marijuana dispensaries open for business and recreation dispensaries opening in July, Cooney is looking toward cannabis as a much-needed cash crop to keep Corner Stalk going.
At last Wednesday’s Eagle Hill Civic Association meeting, Cooney told members he plans to apply for one of the state’s cannabis grow licenses.
“Part of farming sometimes is the finical struggle,” said Cooney. “We said okay, we own an urban farming facility, we have experience and success so explore cannabis as another cash crop that will help us hire more employees and keep our business going.”
Cooney said this would not be cannabis for retail use or sale. Instead Cooney’s cannabis business will be contracted by dispensaries, delivery services and/or edible/extraction/infused cannabis manufacturers to grow marijuana for them.
“We need to grow our company and need a good cash crop to continue farming in East Boston,” said Cooney.
Cooney said his cannabis grow facility would be located at 50 Condor St., a parcel of industrial land along the Chelsea Creek that is owned by Todisco Towing.
“As our landlords, Todisco Towing always has eyes and a presence at the site,” said Cooney. “So security-wise ,it will very secure with a sophisticated locking system and 24-video surveillance.”
Inside the shipping containers, cannabis will be grown with hydroponics, a soil-less growing method that allows the cultivation of plants using recirculated water with optimum nutrient inputs. Compared to the harmful chemical and grey water runoff created by industrial farming and urban pollution, Corner Stalk has no runoff and use no pesticides or harmful chemicals. To top it off, Corner Stalk’s leverage vertical growing technology is able to grow 20 plants per square foot of farm space.