'Farm of the future' owner accused of defrauding investors of $1 million - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 5, 2018 12:46 pm

‘Farm of the future’ owner accused of defrauding investors of $1 million

Metropolis Farms cofounder Jack Griffin told the Inquirer he's “the victim of a plot to steal his patented technology.”

Jack Griffin, pictured here in 2016, inside the South Philly hydroponic farm.

(Photo by Jason Sherman)

Lauded by media and public officials alike as a powerhouse of urban farming, Metropolis Farms President Jack Griffin has shut down his promising South Philly location and faces at least two legal battles over missing money.

In an Inquirer story published Monday, reporter Sam Wood said Griffin was accused by investors of diverting over $1 million to his personal accounts. In a lawsuit, the backers call Griffin a “con artist.”

“Metropolis Farms, his massive indoor garden spot in South Philadelphia, was locked last month after Griffin fell $16,000 behind on rent and utilities,” Wood writes. “Experts say his crop projections were never realistic, while records show he has exaggerated his educational credentials.”

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But Griffin, 56, said the suit is “part of a plot” to steal his patented technology, and that investors and partners are trying to force him out of the business so they can take it for themselves.

In a separate legal feud, New Jersey’s REED Foundation for Autism is suing Griffin over $380,000 in missing state grant money, after the founder agreed but never delivered on a project to build a vertical farm aimed at career development.

In 2016, Technical.ly took a look inside at the South Philly project, which at the time claimed it could yield 44,000 square feet worth of crops using only 36 square feet. “What we did is create the first commercially-viable vertical farm with some of the highest densities and levels of growth ever seen,” Griffin said at the time.

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