Indoor Farming Startup Looks to Redefine How Vegetables are Grown

Jacob Bunge and Eliot Brown reported this week at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “In a renovated warehouse by San Francisco Bay, plastic towers sprouting heads of lettuce, arugula, and herbs rise 20 feet to the ceiling, illuminated by multicolored LED lights that give the room a futuristic feel.

A group of tech entrepreneurs and investors including billionaires Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt are betting this facility, 100 miles north of California’s ‘salad bowl’ produce-farming epicenter, can redefine how vegetables and fruits are grown for local consumption.

“If all goes to plan, the 51,000-square-foot warehouse run by startup Plenty United Inc. will yield as much as 3 million pounds of leafy greens each year. In the coming months, the company plans to begin marketing produce bred for local tables rather than shipping durability.”

The Journal article noted that, “Plenty is among a wave of startups seeking to shift part of the $49 billion U.S. retail produce market from sun-kissed crop fields to giant warehouses, old factories and repurposed shipping containers. These indoor facilities are tricked out with sensors that measure temperature and moisture, automated systems that pump in water and nutrients, and strips of LED lights to provide energy—with no need for sunlight or soil.

“Companies like Plenty, AeroFarms LLC and Freight Farms Inc. have raised tens of millions of dollars, spurred by declines in the cost of LED lighting and heating and cooling systems. The startups aspire to produce for nearby restaurants and grocery stores, whether during the sizzling summers of New Mexico or the frigid winters of Minnesota.”

Bunge and Brown added that, “Even tech giant Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, tried its hand at growing grain indoors, but shut down the project in 2015 after it failed to be energy-efficient enough.

“Plenty believes it can lower costs by farming in big warehouses on cheap land outside city centers, and improve efficiency by using a technique called machine learning that enables computers to review huge data sets and make decisions.”

This entry was posted in Agriculture Law, Start-up Company Law. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.