VALLEY OF SHENANGO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

SERVING THE SHENANGO VALLEY AND MERCER AND TRUMBULL COUNTIES

AMOUNT DONATED: $1,525.1

The VSEDC promotes new business development in downtown Sharon. Our new Urban Agriculture Entrepreneurial Innovation Center (UAEIC) seeks to play an important role in the revitalization of Northwestern Pennsylvania's local food economy and generate jobs/future careers in the Shenango Valley. The UAEIC will provide a state-of-the-art Aquaponics facility, a food test lab, and an open market to the public. We want to prove the Shenango Valley can grow from the decline in industrial jobs and shift to the agriculture business.

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FUNDRAISING GOAL: $25,000

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Our Aquaponics facility will provide the community with fresh vegetables and a sustainable food source for years to come. Aquaponics is a type of indoor farming that can be used year-round. Fish provide the natural fertilizer to feed the plants and the plants help to purify the water for fish. We can grow most leafy crops that are free of pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics.

The open market will be a place for community members to buy fresh local produce from the aquaponics facility. It will permit public sales and interaction with local agriculture entrepreneurs. Sharon is considered an urban food desert and an open market will help change our community culture towards a healthier more sustainable lifestyle.

With a food test lab in downtown Sharon, it allows entrepreneurs to validate their new product for business start-up. Penn State Shenango will have training classes for anyone interested in participating in the food test lab.

We want to replicate a working model in Westmoreland County that has a similar food hub including Aquaponics.

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Coming out of the pandemic, the construction of the Aquaponics facility continues. Drywall is installed, the gas lines and water lines are connected, HVAC has been installed and progress continues to be made. The grow lights and growing beds are being set in place in June 2022. We're planning to have the facility open by October 2022 and producing by the end of the year.

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