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US (WA): Boosting CEA through farm-to-fork project

Seattle architect Melanie Corey-Ferrini’s kiosk-style lobby pop-up concept called G2 is the ultimate in farm-to-fork dining. Protein-rich grains and greens are grown on-site in the unmanned, transparent kiosk and combined with other veggies, roots, spices and dairy to make custom bowls ordered on a mobile app. G2 last summer was named best pioneering foodservice concept in a national contest.

Its one small example of the possibilities of controlled-environment agriculture (CEA), which is at the heart of Corey-Ferrini’s latest endeavor: a multifaceted, urban ag project largely centered in Tukwila, where Sabey Corp. is providing warehouse space for hydroponic growing equipment that Microsoft donated. Corey-Ferrini will use space at Sabey’s Intergate East data center campus to build and launch CEA education and business development programs this year.

CEA is a technology-based approach to food production that allows indoor farmers to maximize use of water, energy and labor. Worldwide in the third quarter, venture capitalists invested $1.6 billion in ag tech companies, bringing the 2020 total to $4.2 billion, according to PitchBook. Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a developer of life science office and lab space, offers early-stage companies move-in-ready space at its Center for AgTech in Durham, North Carolina. 

Several years ago, Corey-Ferrini consulted with Microsoft on a CEA project in Redmond. Contract farmers used Microsoft’s PowerBI and Azure platforms to grow in hydroponic towers lettuce and micro-greens for company cafeterias.

Read more at Biz Journals (M. Stiles)

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