By Eillie Anzilotti.
As the indoor farming industry has taken off in the last several years–over the next 10 years, indoor farming is expected to account for 50% of leafy green production, and grow to a $42 billion industry–it’s become apparent that it’s as much about technology as it is about agriculture. Bowery, a new startup operating out of an old warehouse building in Kearney, New Jersey, developed a sensor-based proprietary technology, called BoweryOS, specifically to support the venture by determining necessary nutrient levels, as well as when crops are ready for harvesting. And in South San Francisco, Plenty is growing produce via a tech-supported vertical farming model that has already received $26 million from tech investors like Bezos Expeditions and Innovation Endeavors.
For FreshBox Farms, an indoor farm operational since 2015 at an old factory site in Millis, Massachusetts, around 30 miles outside of Boston, the technology is important–it is, after all, what enables the greens to grow–but it’s not sacred. “We’re equipment agnostic,” Sonia Lo, the CEO of Crop One Holdings, FreshBox’s parent company, tells Fast Company. “There are people out there doing great work to perfect lights, trays, control systems, nutrient dosing systems–we focus on growing as much as possible.” This almost brusque approach, Lo says, has enabled FreshBox Farms to become one of just two commercial indoor farming ventures in the U.S. that is gross-margin positive. The other is the Newark, New Jersey-based AeroFarms, which grows up to 2 million pounds of produce per year.