Each year, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development (FCOED) partners with Frederick Magazine for Frederick’s Top 50 publication. The 2022 issue, released in January, features Frederick’s Top 50 Under 40. Homegrown Frederick wanted to take a similar approach and highlight the young entrepreneurs and leaders in the agriculture and craft beverage industries. The Homegrown Frederick magazine, released June 1, announces Frederick County’s Top Young Agricultural Professionals. Each week we will be highlighting these individuals so you can get to know them better.
Ali Sharifzadeh, 36, Co-Founder and CEO of District Farms, is named as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals. District Farms is a commercial hydroponic greenhouse located in Frederick. It was founded in 2017 by Ali and two partners. Ali is a highly intelligent individual with a background in electrical engineering and law. A passion for wanting to help build a more sustainable food system arose and he left his patent attorney career to help bring a new type of farming, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), to Frederick County. CEA systems generally take a technology-based approach to agriculture. They allow for optimal growing conditions and mitigate risk from weather changes while preventing disease and pest damage. CEA systems also provide the capability for year-round crop growing.
District Farms is one of the most advanced food production operations in the County and is on its way to being one of the largest vegetable growing facilities in the Mid-Atlantic. Since District Farm’s inception, Ali and the team have the goal to provide fresh, local, high-quality leafy greens to the entire Mid-Atlantic region. They saw an opportunity in this business venture as 95% of all leafy greens in the United States are produced in California and Arizona. Currently, Ali is leading a business expansion five times the size of the existing facility. The expansion is planned to be completed by late 2022.
Ali says he is most proud of, “successfully planning, constructing and operating a commercial greenhouse employing an advanced hydroponic growing system as well as continuing to expand our operations during the Coronavirus pandemic.” His colleagues and employees are appreciative of the positive workplace culture he has created at District Farms leading to employee satisfaction, retention and minimal turnover. In five years, Ali hopes to further expand the operation in the County and enter into other produce segments such as berries and vine crops.
We are proud to honor Ali as one of Frederick County’s Top Young Ag Professionals and appreciate what District Farms has brought to Frederick County. The full list can be found here. It is safe to say the local agricultural industry has a bright future ahead with young leaders like him at the helm. Be sure to congratulate Ali on this well-deserved accolade and follow along with District Farms on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about their unique and incredibly innovative business!