About Fork Farms
Fork Farms is an ag-tech startup headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin that believes having consistent access to the freshest, highest quality food is a human right. Their patented indoor, vertical hydroponic technology allows people and communities to participate in the fresh, local food movement.
A native of Michigan, Tyink moved to Appleton, Wisconsin at a very young age. After moving to New York to pursue a career in classical music, Alex started volunteering at an urban farm. It was this experience that convinced Alex to start Fork Farms in 2010. Alex now lives back in Appleton with his wife and son.
CAN YOU TALK BRIEFLY ABOUT YOUR ROAD TO WISCONSIN? WHAT EVENTUALLY BROUGHT YOU TO OUR STATE?
I have deep roots in Wisconsin. I grew up in Appleton, after my parents moved our family from Michigan when I was very young. I was educated through the Appleton area school district and spent a year at Lawrence University. Needing to explore other communities, I transferred to Northwestern University in Chicago where I completed my degree. I moved to New York to pursue a career in classical music. While there, I began volunteering at an urban farm and had a transformative personal experience, which led to me to the decision that I was meant to work in the agricultural industry. Specifically, providing nutritious food to people across the planet.
To accomplish my goals of growing a business, I knew the best place to do this was back in Wisconsin. With the connection and support of my family, the affordable cost of living and familiarity of the Midwest, I am proud to be continuously growing Fork Farms in Northeast Wisconsin.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT BEING A WISCONSIN RESIDENT?
I love the community. There is a small-town feel, but we have the amenities of a larger city. We have an amazing emerging food scene, incredible schools, an abundance of outdoor activities and diverse work opportunities. Our business would not exist without the kind, supportive people and businesses that make up our community. We have benefitted from the support of so many local people.
BRIEFLY EXPLAIN WHAT FORM FARMS DOES.
Fork Farms is a mission-first agriculture technology company. We increase access to affordable fresh food through the implementation of the world’s most efficient, modular and deployable vertical indoor farming technology. Because we strongly believe that food is a human right,
Fork Farms allows anyone to become a farmer. When people grow their own food, they are more likely to eat it. This leads to a wide range of environmental and health benefits.
WHAT ABOUT WISCONSIN HAS KEPT YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND FORK FARMS IN THE STATE?
Wisconsin has a deep philanthropic and thriving manufacturing community. We make our product in state, which has saved us from many of the supply chain issues affecting the world right now. Wisconsin is also a safe place to raise a family, with excellent public schools. This is an environment that is great for raising kids and starting a business within an emerging industry.
ARE THERE ANY VERTICAL FARMING TRENDS THAT YOU AND FORK FARMS SEE LEADING THE INDUSTRY GOING FORWARD?
The agricultural industry needs to work for real people and create real opportunities and impact. Historically, the industry has been trying to, in many ways, replicate conventional agriculture. For example, building huge indoor farms that lean on economy of scale and automation; however, that ultimately takes people out of the equation, which is the main problem.
Food has the power to create value beyond just feeding people. For us at Fork Farms, providing high quality, fresh, affordable food is table stakes. We believe that the real magic comes from all the other opportunities growing your own food, at a meaningful scale, can provide. Whether this means teaching people, feeding neighbors in need, building a business, the new food system should be in servitude to the people that eat the food. The decentralization and hyper-localization of food production puts the power back into the hands of real people, and we intend to be the category leader in building a fresher future.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH WEDC?
As a qualified new business venture (QNBV), we have been able to offer tax credits to our investors as we have raised capital to grow the business. That designation has provided significant risk mitigation for our investors, which has led to faster fundraising with more mission-aligned investors. These investments have allowed us to create more than 20 jobs in the state, so far.
WHAT EXCITES YOU THE MOST ABOUT THE WISCONSIN BUSINESS CLIMATE GOING FORWARD?
I believe the emerging startup activity will be the core economic driver in the state in the next 10 years. It brings benefits to businesses of all sizes and positions the state to leverage its incredible manufacturing, agricultural and technological resources to spur the most growth.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO SEE IMPROVE IN THE WISCONSIN BUSINESS CLIMATE GOING FORWARD?
I hope to see increased investment from the state government in building the state startup ecosystem. We need capital, talent and infrastructure that makes this state an even better place to raise a family and build a business.