Black Farmer in Chicago Grows Organic Food Inside His 18-Wheeler Semi-Trailer Truck

Derek Drake, founder of Ditto Foods

Meet Derek Drake, the founder and CEO of Ditto Foods, a Black-owned hydroponic farming company located in south suburban Chicago. Inside his 18-wheeler semi-trailer truck, he grows organic lettuce, kale, collard greens, herbs, and root vegetables and sells them to wholesalers and local restaurants that feature farm-to-table menus.

Derek was born and raised in Ford Heights, Illinois, and as a child, he helped his grandmother plow and sow in the family garden learning the ropes of traditional farming. This is where his love for fresh-grown food was birthed.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Derek spent several years traveling throughout Asia where he developed a passion for exotic herbs and other freshly grown ingredients. After nearly 25 years in the hospitality industry, as a result of the pandemic, Derek lost his job, and he began to sow a new dream, and Ditto Foods was born.

What sets his company apart from other urban farms is that he uses hydroponics, which is a farming method of growing plants without soil. In addition, the plants are grown vertically in panels, and custom LED red and blue lights are used for natural light.

Hydroponic plant cultivation is widely considered more sustainable than regular farming as it uses around 90% less water. Secondly, hydroponic farming yields more vegetables and herbs in a shorter time. Thirdly, its carbon footprint is minimal as the greens are grown locally.

Via his TikTok channel, which has almost 70,000 followers, he regularly posts new videos explaining how he successfully maintains his farm from the inside of a truck even during the cold winter months.

For more details about Derek and Ditto Foods, visit his official website at

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