The state of New Jersey has helped an innovative vertical farming start-up take over a long abandoned steel mill to produce sustainable vegetables. AeroFarms currently employs close to 100 people, and has grown over 250 types of leafy greens since launching last year. The farm uses very low quantities of water and space, and has also attracted funding from major private investors
Results & Impact
The farm employs around 100 people and sells 20 varieties of green vegetables. The crops it produces year-round do minimal environmental damage, because they are grown inside and do not need to be transported to the city. Its operator, AeroFarms, claims it is the largest indoor vertical farm in the world
The State of New Jersey, AeroFarms, Goldman Sachs and Prudential Financial
The start-up specialises in a technique called aeroponics which doesn't require either soil, natural light or water for plant growth. To help build the farm, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority provided nearly $9 million in incentives over a decade, including $6.5 million in tax credits. The project has also attracted funding from the impact investing arms of Goldman Sachs and Prudential Financial
Cost & Value
Running since 2016
Vertical farms like AeroFarms often struggle to produce food in the large quantities needed for cities. They also use a lot of energy for grow lamps
Vertical farming has experienced a spurt in popularity around the world in recent years. AeroFarms currently has eight other farms and has announced that it is developing more across four different continents
An ambitious plan to convert an abandoned steel mill in Newark, New Jersey into a multi storey vertical farm, producing vegetables without water, soil or sunlight, is on course to produce more than two million pounds of greens each year.
AeroFarms in New Jersey specialises in a technique called aeroponics which doesn’t require either soil, natural light or water for plant growth. The farm, based in a depressed area of New Jersey city, has created local jobs, attracted millions of dollars in public and private investment and begun production of affordable greens. The company has so far spent around $30 million in producing crops with minimal environmental damage and ,maximum production cycles.
Advocates of vertical farming have described it as the “third green revolution”, which will modernise food production in a manner which mimics technology companies like Apple and Tesla. One future potential advantage of vertical farming could be its ability to address global food shortages both in an era of population growth and in areas of extreme water shortage or soil aridity.
AeroFarms products are free of pesticides and fertiliser, and specialise in a methodology described as “precision agriculture” which upends the traditional theory of farming involving open fields with labourers planting and harvesting crops. Instead, closed urban spaces are favoured where production is managed by engineers and electricians.
AeroFarm’s funding has come from a variety of sources, including the impact investing arms of Goldman Sachs and Prudential Financial. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority also provided nearly $9 million in incentives over a decade, which includes $6.5 million in tax credits. The company honed its pitch around concerns over land and water shortages, the importance of locally sourced food and the dangers of climate change. Local crops mean reduced emissions associated with transportation.
AeroFarms currently employs close to 100 people. It has grown over 250 types of leafy greens and sells more than 20 varieties including kale and spinach. Vertical farming is an increasingly popular movement in the US, where at least five new similar operations have emerged over the past five years to allow a year-round harvests of crops.
(Picture: Flickr/ Blaine O’Neill)