Ekpe Udoh Launches Farm in Oklahoma to Increase Healthy Food Access
Farming and basketball are not typically two professions mentioned in the same sentence. However, NBA veteran Ekpe Udoh is shattering all conventions with his new hydroponic urban farm in his hometown of Oklahoma City. In 2018, Udoh launched LGR Farms, an extension of his Let’s Get Right (LGR) foundation established in 2015.
Although Udoh and LGR have been sponsoring philanthropic activities for several years, including basketball camps, book clubs, and turkey giveaways, Udoh has been literally and figuratively planting seeds for his new sustainable agriculture enterprise all the while. Now a farming expert, Udoh is ready to tackle malnutrition in low-income neighborhoods.
Raised by native Nigerian parents accustomed to growing their own food, Udoh is a passionate advocate for clean eating. Therefore, when he discovered how severely limited and unaffordable healthy food options are for those living in marginalized communities, he decided to do something about it.
Opened in May 2018, LGR Farms provides affordable fresh produce free of herbicides and pesticides to local inner-city communities, in addition to restaurants, grocery stores, public schools, and other underserved populations. The farm boasts over fifty vegetable varieties, including leafy greens like Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula, butterhead lettuce, romaine, and kale.
As impressive as the farm’s mission is its high-tech operating system. Nearly all of the farm’s operations are controlled by an app. Produce grows vertically inside a 40 foot recycled shipping container using filtered water instead of soil—hence the term hydroponic. Amazingly, the farm’s footprint occupies just an acre and a half yet can turn over new crop yields every four to six weeks, even during winter.
With a goal of eventually operating five shipping containers and producing 500 heads of lettuce per week, Udoh evidently has big plans for his career after basketball. A strong believer in the medicinal power of nutrient-dense food, Udoh is on a mission to help people live life to the fullest, particularly those living in underserved areas in his home city. In short, he says he simply wants to "keep people dancing and eating salads."