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US (WA): Plenty opens 100K square-foot facility in Seattle region

Plenty will open a 100,000 square-foot farm in Kent, Wash., where the 3-year-old company will grow pesticide-free, “backyard quality” produce for consumers in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. It’s the first time the startup has expanded beyond its home markets in South San Francisco and Wyoming; it will also be the company’s first “full-scale” farm.

Plenty grows its plants in 20-foot tall towers inside a climate-controlled facility with LED lights. It does not use pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMOs. The system uses thousands of infrared cameras and sensors to collect data in the farms, which is then analyzed using machine learning to optimize how the plants grow.

In an interview with GeekWire, Plenty CEO and co-founder Matt Barnard said Seattle’s relative lack of access to local produce and the region’s emphasis on healthy food made it a perfect place to expand.

“As we looked at the West Coast, Seattle was the best example of a large community of people who really don’t have much access to any fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally,” he explained.

Plenty will hire 50 people at the farm in Kent, and expects to double the size of its team, Barnard said. Fresh produce will start shipping to a few restaurants initially in mid-2018, and then to other buyers that will be announced at a later date. It also plans to open more farms across the country and eventually around the world.

Read more at GeekWire (Taylor Soper)

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