Saturday, December 12, 2015

AeroFarms Raises $20 Million for High-Tech Urban Agriculture

From Venture Capital Dispatch:
AeroFarms builds large, indoor farming facilities.
AeroFarms Inc. has raised $20 million in a Series B round of venture funding to build more of its “aeroponic vertical farms.” The high-tech indoor farms use 95% less water than conventional, commercial field farms, according to founder and Chief Executive David Rosenberg.

Wheatsheaf Group led the investment in the agtech company, joined by earlier backers GSR Ventures, MissionPoint Capital and Middleland Capital.

With corporate headquarters in Newark, N.J., AeroFarms grows and sells about 20 different leafy greens such as kale, arugula and watercress.

Its farms run on proprietary systems, including equipment that delivers fertilizer only to a plant’s roots and a network of software-controlled, LED growing lights.

The company’s engineers and horticultural scientists also use cameras, sensors and algorithms to collect and analyze data about their crops. They know what tweaks can cause different seeds to grow into plants with certain attributes, like a more peppery flavor, for example, or a level of tenderness in a leaf.

That means AeroFarms is able to give its buyers custom greens for their menus.
AeroFarms’ systems also allow the company to grow greens without any soil, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. Its produce is ready to be eaten or sold without any washing. The CEO said washing is, surprisingly, what introduces or spreads “all the little nasties…that can cause foodborne illnesses and spoilage.”...MORE
Here's a slightly different approach:
From CNN June 24:
This farm in a box generates $15,000 a month
People repurpose old shipping containers for lots of things -- homes, restaurants, art galleries, even swimming pools.

But Shawn Cooney may have found the greenest use yet -- literally. On a vacant lot near Boston's Logan Airport, Cooney is using four former freight containers -- plus one at another location -- to grow some 30,000 heads of lettuce, herbs and other leafy greens.

"I'm not really a farmer," said the 61-year-old Cooney, who ran software companies before starting Corner Stalk farms in 2013. "But it's more interesting than a desk job."

If 30,000 heads of lettuce sounds like a lot, it is -- and it's the reason why he's able to run a successful farm in one of the country's most expensive cities.

The containers come from Freight Farms, a Boston-based startup that outfits the boxes with lights, growing racks and irrigation systems -- creating what are essentially super efficient growing machines.

The boxes themselves are former freezer containers that were used to ship meat, so they're insulated against the heat and cold. Inside, the plants get light from LEDs and there's no soil. The roots are instead placed in a peat moss base that gets a dollop of nutrient-rich water every 12 minutes. The entire container, floor to ceiling, is filled with plants in a totally self-contained operation that eliminates the one variable that's vexed farmers since the dawn of agriculture: the weather....MORE
corner stalk
 Corner Stalk, outside and in.