Famine… or feast? Soil… or aeroponics?
According to the figures estimated by the UN, 9.7 billion hungry human beings will be living on planet Earth by 2050. We will need to produce more food in the first half of this century than we did in the previous 100 centuries combined. Along with an increasing population, the world faces climate change, rising fossil fuel prices, ecosystem degradation, and water and land scarcity – all of which are making today’s food production methods increasingly unsustainable. There’s an upside to all this flux and food insecurity, however. The need for solutions is driving important new agricultural innovations – in particular, urban agriculture and indoor cultivation. Farming has migrated from the fields to the cities and moved into the developed environment.
Stacked layers with leafy greens in fully controlled units; some might call it the future of farming. While there are diverse opinions if all that fancy lettuce will indeed solve world hunger, at AeroFarms they are convinced that controlled environment agriculture can introduce groundbreaking revolutions to our food system. AeroFarms is a mission-driven organization focused on all of their stakeholders from the environment to the community to their team to their investors, and they are committed to building, owning, and operating indoor vertical farms that grow delicious, safe, healthy food in a sustainable and socially responsible way all over the world.
Gracious Growers of the Greens
Since its inception in 2004, AeroFarms has been working to transform agriculture, building an incredibly skilled team of experts and learning crucial information along the way. Initially AeroFarms acted as an agriculture technology company selling vertical farming systems, with their first farm deployed at the Finger Lakes area of Ithaca, NY by their Chief Science Officer, Dr. Ed Harwood. In 2011 Co-Founders Marc Oshima and David Rosenberg joined AeroFarms, which then pivoted to building, owning and operating privately-owned farms and growing safe, nutritious and delicious baby leafy greens year round. David Rosenberg, Co-Founder & CEO, had a passionate commitment to preserve the water resources and has nurtured his passion into a force for environmental good the world over. AeroFarms uses 95% less water and 50% less fertilizer than traditional vegetable farms; and with zero pesticides and their annual yields are 390 times higher per square foot.
Under his able guidance, CEO David brings proprietary innovations to the tech company, making AeroFarms the world’s expert in growing plants. Today they own and operate the world’s largest indoor vertical farm and have plans to start building more larger farms in the near future.
The Ecological Innovator backed by Aeroponics
With state-of-the-art aeroponic technology and LED lighting, the team utilizes a totally controlled growing environment without sun or soil and minimizing harmful transportation miles. The environmental champion is leading the way to address the global food crisis by owning and operating local farms to grow flavorful, healthy, pesticide-free leafy greens in a sustainable and socially responsible way. AeroFarms is able to provide fresh, locally greens 365 days a year. Their products provide a safer, more delicious meal because of the unique way they cultivate.
Traditional farming is plagued with water shortages and contamination, soil degradation, disappearing arable land, and the list goes on. There’s a need for a new sustainable way of farming, and AeroFarms believes that the amalgamation of aeroponic farming and data science is the new paradigm to enable local production at scale. The plant scientists at AeroFarms use a closed-loop aeroponic system to mist the roots of their greens with nutrients, water, and oxygen in a way where they can reuse even the evaporated water. The plants are all grown without pesticides, because they’re protected from pests inside the warehouse.
Envisioning a Sustainable Future
AeroFarms’ way of farming minimizes food safety risks; no soil intervention, completely insulated from neighboring operations, no usage of pesticides, and the package of greens can be tracked down to the exact square foot of growing. In addition, each of their farmers and staff go through rigorous food safety training, and they are certified with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Good Agricultural Practices. Food borne illnesses from vegetables are mainly a product of the practices needed to sustain large-scale commercial agriculture. Overuse of antibiotics in factory farming of livestock has created resistant bacteria, which are then sold to farmers in the form of manure or fertilizer. Plus, even when fertilizers are not contaminated, farming communities are at constant risk of groundwater contamination and runoff – especially as water becomes scarcer and farmers are forced to get creative in sourcing it. Pesticides as well, though not usually included in food safety discussions around recalls and outbreaks, have both acute and long-term health effects – especially to farmers with prolonged exposure. Furthermore, large brands are sourcing from hundreds of farms. When it comes to leafy greens, all of these are generally in one area of California so traceability is a major question.
AeroFarms also places a high focus on disrupting the supply chain. Although their technology is compliant with any environment, they have been focusing on dormant warehouse spaces that are close to existing retailers and foodservice distributors. Through this strategic approach, they aim to decrease food miles and travel time so that their greens are as fresh as possible when they reach the consumers. Subsequently, the company is nobly intended to breathe some new life into areas that may have lost manufacturing businesses decades ago.