After graduating from college, Zach Zepf wanted to apply his agricultural background to a new business venture. Zepf grew up with a brother who has autism, so he wanted to combine his love of agriculture with a commitment to helping the special-needs population.
Zepf noticed the demand for locally grown produce as the farm-to-table movement gained popularity. He decided that his venture, Zeponic Farms, could support the special-needs population by employing individuals with autism and other challenges to farm produce for the local market.
Zeponic Farms operates out of a customized shipping container, which allows the team to use hydroponic technology to offer fresh produce year-round. Its hydroponic growing method uses 95 percent less water than a conventional farm.
The Grow Your Business workshop allowed Zepf to start networking and get professional advice in funding and marketing. "As a result, we were able to secure a loan for our first hydroponic farm," he says.
Zeponic Farms was named Outstanding Green Business at the 2016 SCORE Awards.
“Without Len’s mentorship, Zeponic Farms would still be in the planning phase,” Zepf says, crediting volunteer Len Johnson for helping Zepf overcome the steep learning curve of starting a business. "Thanks to Len I received the information vital to launching our company, with all of the necessary components of a successful business. Len helped with the design phase in all of our marketing materials," Zepf says, including the company's logo, business cards, website, and shipping-container signage.