The largest & most technologically advanced vertical farm
AeroFarms, a leader in indoor vertical farming, has announced its second commercial indoor vertical farm, in Virginia, USA.
The 136,000 square foot, next-generation Model 5 farm will be the largest and most technologically advanced aeroponic indoor vertical farm in the world.
Strategically located in close proximity to more than 1,000 food retailers in the region, the farm will provide access to approximately 50 million people located within a day’s drive.
The new farm will advance AeroFarms’ leadership in plant science and technology and expand its leafy greens business to the Mid-Atlantic region with brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce partners, building upon existing relationships that include Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh. It is expected to be ready in 2022.
Farming success in Virgina, USA
“Innovation and new technologies have always been the driving forces behind the success of Virginia’s largest private sector industry, agriculture”, said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “By choosing to establish their largest production facility to date here in the Commonwealth, AeroFarms is ensuring that Virginia is a leader in indoor vertical farming."
The technology of vertical farms
“The science, technology and innovation that underpin our platform allows us to drive superior unit economics and scale up our business to deliver on our mission of growing the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity”, said David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AeroFarms. “Our customers love our leafy greens, which consistently win on quality, flavor, taste and texture. We are excited to break ground on our new farm, expand our retail presence in the region and bring our exceptional, great tasting products to more customers.”
The farm will feature AeroFarms’ proprietary and cutting-edge agSTACK technology, creating a fully connected and digitally controlled farm that integrates hardware, automation, intelligent controls and sensors, machine learning, machine vision, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and manufacturing execution systems to create a powerful data loop.
By collecting and analyzing data through its 26 crop turns per year, AeroFarms’ team of engineers, plant scientists, and programmers gather insights about plants, and apply these learnings for the continuous improvement of its farms, which yield annual productivity up to 390 times greater than traditional field farming, while using up to 95% less water and zero pesticides.
“Our new farm will deepen our established retailer partnerships even further and make our sustainably grown, pesticide-free and always fresh leafy greens available throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, while also creating high-quality jobs in the area. This new facility represents an inflection point in our growth trajectory as we scale our technology and expand our retail distribution footprint and customer reach”, concluded Rosenberg.
SokoFresh's cold storage units will stop food waste in Kenya
A foodtech company in Kenya is using solar energy to help smallholder farmers keep harvested produce cool to prevent food waste.
SokoFresh is a member of The Circulars Accelerator, an initiative to help entrepreneurs scale innovations that will help the world move towards a circular economy – in which waste is eliminated and resources are used again and again.
New cold storage units to prevent food waste
Small-volume farmers who grow avocados, mangos and French beans in Kenya, are helping to test the model from SokoFresh, which manages mobile cold storage units, that run on 100% solar energy.
By paying a small amount (1 Kenyan shilling) per kilogram on a pay-as-you-go basis, farmers or produce buyers can affordably access cold storage, when they need it.
SokoFresh plans for 400 cold storage units, in five years, to boost income for 35,000 farmers.
Cold storage units will support Kenya’s farmers
About 90% of Kenya’s agricultural produce comes from smallholders, who don’t have the kind of cold storage solutions available to large-scale producers. This means lots of produce perishes in outside temperatures after being harvested.
“More than 30% of all food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted”, said a representative from SokoFresh says. “Food loss in Africa occurs almost entirely in the production and distribution stages.”
Farmers using the model can earn up to 50% more on their harvest, while buyers receive more and better quality produce.
The cost of logistics is also reduced, because trucks are picking up full loads that have been stored in the cold storage units by multiple farmers.
Enviu, the Netherlands-based impact venture organization behind SokoFresh, hopes to have a network of 400 cold storage units in the next five years. This would help 35,000 farmers, creating 3,000 new jobs in rural areas and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Sokofresh supports UN Sustainable Goal 12
Around 14% of food is lost after harvest on farms and at the transport, storage, processing and wholesale stages, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This food has a value of more than $400b a year.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres last year described food loss and waste as an “ethical outrage.”
By 2030, UN member states have pledged to halve food waste and reduce food loss as part of Sustainable Development Goal 12.
SokoFresh is a part of the solution to food security and ending food waste.