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Meet Chris Fox of BAMBOX Produce in Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Fox.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Chris. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Well, I started my collegiate career as an athlete on a full ride to Utah State University for football. I spent two years there studying business and finance before realizing that the football route wasn’t for me. Teachers in my gen-ed classes would pass us through because we were athletes with little worry as to how we were comprehending the material. I was torn by the decision to give the scholarship back, but a new found love for the practice of yoga (which I was introduced to by my coaches enrolling me in class so that I could become more limber) helped me to realize that life had so much more to offer than what was contained within the boundaries of the gridiron. So, I made the decision to pass my scholarship along to the next young impassioned player of the game and took my studies to the University of Arizona. There, I studied architecture, fine art, psychology, astrophysics, philosophy, and some sustainability. I had absolutely no idea which direction I wanted to go but was fascinated by the pursuit of knowledge of all subjects.

All the while, getting deeper and deeper into a yoga practice. I ran into some financial hardship and decided to move home after two years in Tucson, winding up in Tempe and eventually in the Mary Lou Fulton teacher’s college at ASU pursuing a degree in elementary education. Once I made the decision to hang up the cleats the pursuit was that for a career that really made a tangible difference in the world. Athletes are some of the most passionate people on the planet, myself included, and I wanted to direct that passion to something truly worthwhile, something that would make a difference not for only myself or my family but for the world in at least a small part. So elementary education seemed like the right fit, empowering young minds to find their passions early and pursue them with vigor so as not to go through the revolutionary process that found me and countless others in our early 20s. Again, reality set in when I began student teaching and within the boundaries of the real world I felt confined again. So, I took a leave of absence to gather it all in, to assess my skillset and refocus. I enrolled at the Southwest Institute of the Healing Arts and studied holistic nutrition, yoga and urban farming. It was finally all coming together.

I chose the thing that stuck with me throughout my football career and the twists and turns of academia to pursue head-on, Yoga. I am now teaching 6 classes a week, have taught the varsity football team at my old high school- Chaparral, and have been connected to some of the wisest Yoga minds out there through trust that the path will unfold as it should when pursuing your personal True North. The interconnectedness of Yoga, nutrition, and urban farming became evident and that led me to pursue education in sustainability. One cannot live a truly sustainable life if mental clarity, physical nutrition, social responsibility or environmental accountability are out of balance. So that’s where BAMBOX comes in. I was brought in as an intern when my partners who originally had the idea of integrating an urban indoor farm into the Phoenix landscape had put out an ad needing interns. It aligned with my goals and I was brought on. This was in the infancy stage of the company. Dr. Jason Licamele provided the scientific knowledge of plant biology and hydroponic systems with our other partner, David Slattery’s sound financial background to plant the seed in downtown Phoenix by using tax credits to reform an abandoned chapel into veteran housing with an urban farm resting in the basement. This is still a model that BAMBOX may grow into, but first we needed to establish the brand, and the business model. That’s where I came in. I built a team of dreamers and believers that have passionately helped take BAMBOX from a sustainable farm to a brand that is synonymous with living the best life you can live. We moved to Old Town Scottsdale and developed the customer facing brand that BAMBOX is today.

My goal is to have BAMBOX be the first stop in transitioning to a sustainable (mental clarity, social responsibility, physical health, and environmental accountability) lifestyle. Eating is the one thing we all do about three times a day, every single day. And it couldn’t be more true that you are what you eat. Our bodies are only able to run off the quality of nutrition that we put in, and at BAMBOX we grow the cleanest, most sustainable and nutritionally dense produce possible.

Combine that with incredible flavor and the mental clarity that comes from helping the planet through sustainable food production methods and it’s the first building block in being the best you can be. We run off of a membership base that we expand or contract our production to suit accordingly, so the amount of waste from our operation is incredibly small. We recycle our water so that our produce takes about 10% as much water to grow as outdoor methods. Absolutely no pesticides ever, and we control the environment that our greens and micro greens grow in in order to stress them into producing more beneficial nutrients and flavor. And to make it convenient, we even deliver but love to give tours and educational talks at the farm in Scottsdale. Today we are just gettin started. We have plans to be built into a hotel development in Scottsdale and plan to “franchise” our local sustainable farm across the valley and the country, helping future entrepreneurs to create a viable business while doing good for their communities and helping to correct some of the huge problems we see with industrial agriculture and the scale of the current food system (average head of lettuce traveling 1500 miles to grocery store, 96 billion pounds of wasted food annually in US, pesticide related diseases, degraded topsoil, and eutrophication).

Has it been a smooth road?
There are struggles in building any business. The big ones for us have been similar to other indoor farming groups but we are approaching it in a different way. The goal for us has been to start by producing what we can sell. We keep overhead low to minimize the costs of running a small-scale farm and scale accordingly.

Marketing on a low budget always requires creative minds but fortunately, I have a team filled with those. We’ve established partnerships with other local businesses in an initiative called the bamwagon. As a member of BAMBOX, you receive discounts or incentives to visit other businesses that you may frequent already or be wanting to try as you make the transition or continue on the path of a sustainable lifestyle. Our strict adherence to our growing principles and unwillingness to compromise on quality is something that we are constantly coming up with creative solutions to build the business model that adapts to them, and not the other way around.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see indoor urban farming right now in the infancy stage or early adoption phase of this technology. Growing in greenhouses has been around for decades and controlled environment systems have as well, but truly integrated small-scale micro farms distributed around a city is a relatively new thing, especially indoor micro-farms. As overhead costs come down and companies like bambox pop up with a profitable business model more entrepreneurs will want to start their own farms and investors will be willing to invest. Cities will restructure zoning requirements and mass adoption will eventually occur. I see the younger generations having a much higher interest on where their food comes from. Veganism is supposed to be 2018’s “megatrend”. This industry really highlights some of the inadequacies and compromises of the industrial farming model. It won’t completely replace that model, it can’t, but it will offset some of the unintended side effects we have seen as a result of that model in recent years. It will be interesting to see the commodity market shift. There are some really great companies starting huge indoor farms just on the outside of cities or on the distribution routes to be able to compete with the commodity prices of vegetables. I can see labels stating how the food was grown and a real public interest in just that.

Pricing:

  • Small BAMbox- $80/month = 1/2 pound box of produce delivered each week
  • Medium BAMbox- $160/month = 1 pound box of produce delivered each week
  • Large BAMbox- $200/month = 1 1/2 pound box of produce delivered each week
  • 5 Pack BAMpack- $100/month = 5 BAM nutraceutical-grade salads delivered each week
  • (BAMbox Daily) 7 Pack BAMpack- $150/month = 7 BAM nutraceutical-grade salads delivered each week
  • 10 Pack BAMpack- $200/month = 10 BAM nutraceutical-grade salads delivered each week

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Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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