Changing the World One Sprout at a Time
Story by Holly Tarson
Photographed by Karen Pearson
Tucked away on a fairly nondescript block of Main Street hides a little-known secret: the Indoor Organic Gardens of Poughkeepsie (IOGP). The name conjures images of vaulted greenhouse ceilings dusted with snow, streams of sunlight coaxing seedlings to maturity, and a few fresh-from-Brooklyn farmers cultivating heirloom veggies for a Manhattan restaurant. Well, scratch that record, because this is not your earthy-crunchy organic garden. And Brud Hodgkins, IOGP’s founder, is no millennial bohemian.
Brud Hodgkins is a man of many hats, but at his core, he’s an entrepreneur who likes to keep busy. He grew up in Maine, in a town of about 100 people, right on the Quebec border. He attended a one-room schoolhouse through eighth grade. Even then, the writing was already on the wall. Brud started a maple syrup company when he was eight years old. “It was something my mother gave me to do to keep me busy,” he says. Sixty-four years later, his office still houses evidence of the maple syrup business that continues to this day. He’s been in the life insurance business well over 40 years and has a background in financial management and civil engineering. His resume is peppered with business and real estate ventures, including the opening of Riverside Bank in the mid-’80s.
So what brings a man like this to indoor farming? “This is exactly the same as the bank,” Brud says, as if the connection is obvious. “I thought there was a shortage of something and there was an excess of something.” The shortage is a year-round food supply. The Hudson Valley is replete with local produce in summer and early fall. But come mid-October, only a few squash, kale and late-variety apples remain. “We started this business to grow food because we know there is a tremendous demand…in this latitude that’s not being fulfilled except for two to three months of the year.”