From the outside, the gray and white warehouse near the corner of Oris Street and Mona Boulevard seems like a thousand other mundane Southern California buildings. But the interior, once completed, will resemble a sketch from a futurist's daydreams. If all goes well, the 95,000-square-foot Compton facility will house rows of hydroponic towers organized into emerald walls of non-GMO, pesticide-free leafy greens. These plants won't rely on sunlight in order to grow. Gleaming LED lamps will provide all the light the crops could ever want. Robots will transport seedlings while other machines move the towers as part of an orchestrated production process. Picture a grow room in a futuristic Martian colony and you're probably on the right track.
The operation is run by Plenty, a San Francisco-based startup that uses vertical farming to create high-quality, nutritious plants "you'd actually want to eat" (their words). Stated another way, they grow crops, often without natural light or soil, in vertically stacked beds in enclosed and controlled environments.
Plenty wants to build at least 500 of these vertical farms around the planet, especially in densely populated cities of at least 1 million people.