AeroFarms has put $30 m into a green revolution that seeks to produce more harvests in less space, but whether its economically viable is an open question
An ambitious, almost fantastical, show of agricultural technology is expected to come to fruition this fall. From the remains of an abandoned steel mill in Newark, New Jersey, the creators of AeroFarms are constructing what they say is likely to be the largest vertical farm, creating two million pounds of leafy greens a year.
Whether it even qualifies as a farm is subject to savour. The greens will be manufactured using a technology called aeroponics, a technique in which harvests are grown in vertical stacks of plant beds, without soil, sunlight or water.
I eat some of the arugula here, told New Jersey Governor Chris Christie after a recent visit to a smaller AeroFarms facility in the neighborhood. It savours fabulous. No garmenting necessary.
The farm, built in the economically depressed New Jersey city promises new jobs, millions of dollars in public-private investment, and an array of locally grown leafy greens for sale. The company has spent some $30 m to bring to reality a new breed of green agriculture that seeks to produce more harvests in less space while minimizing environmental damage, even if it means totally divorcing food production from the natural ecosystem.
AeroFarms and other companies developing similar controlled growing climates claim to be transforming agriculture. Proponents of horizontal farming call it the Third Green Revolution, analogizing the developments to Apple and Tesla. They tout the potential of such technology to address food shortages as “the worlds population” continues to grow.
AeroFarms touts their products as free of pesticides and fertilizer, an attribute that investors suppose will attract customers who buy organic produce. We definitely watch the need for healthy food in the locals and Newark in particular, said Lata Reddy, vice president for corporate social responsibility at Prudential Financial, one of the investors in the project.