US (NJ): Automated indoor farm continues to grow

Around two years ago, the then 10-person team of Bowery, an indoor farming startup, started growing a small array of leafy greens out of what was once a shipbuilding yard in Kearny, New Jersey. Undeterred by the rather harsh post-industrial environment, the Bowery team was just looking for somewhere to set up that had a lot of space. After all, their farming system is more about the tech than it is the soil and the water and the things you might generally associate with farming. By growing produce in trays, stacked high in rooms whose temperature, lighting, and humidity is tightly controlled by a proprietary operating system, Bowery’s farming requires no soil, and instead delivers nutrients to its array of leafy greens via a hydroponic system that uses 95% less water than traditional agriculture.

Bowery certainly doesn’t look like a farm, but that, to CEO Irving Fain, is the point. “We’re excited about being able to move into these abandoned spaces in cities and create new jobs and industry,” he says. In Kearny, that’s exactly what Bowery is doing: On September 24, the startup officially unveiled its second, larger farm (the company does not disclose square footage) in a new building on the same industrial complex, which was built in 2017 as part of a larger revitalization effort in Kearny. In terms of output, the new farm is about 30 times more productive, and the startup has greatly diversified its crop output, adding bok choy, cilantro, and parsley to its original kale, spinach, and basil offerings. The startup is also expanding its distribution: It will continue selling through Whole Foods, as it already has been (at a price comparable to most of the retailer’s other greens) and also be featured on menus at Sweetgreen and Dig Inn throughout the Northeast.

Read more at Fast Company (Eillie Anzilotti)

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