World's Largest Vertical Farm in New Jersey to Produce 2M Pounds of Produce
Newark, NJ is not known for its extensive farming grounds but it just might be in the future with the help of vertical farming.
Start-up Aerofarms is currently building what will be the largest vertical farm in the world with some financial help of Goldman Sachs, Prudential Financial and RBH Group.
“It’s a form of indoor controlled agriculture, utilizing as many levels possible of growing beds stacked vertically in a single-story building,” explains Marc Oshima, co-founder of Aerofarms. “We use 95% less water than traditional field farmers, utilizing aeroponics to mist the roots with water and nutrients — offering 70 times greater productivity per square foot annually than traditional farms.”
The $39 million facility will turn an old steel mill in Newark into a high-tech green haven that will produce over two million pounds of kale, arugula, and other produce in a year. The food will then be sold locally.
“We want to go where the mouths are,” says David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of AeroFarms. “Newark allows us to go to New York City and throughout New Jersey. We’re focused on the places that have economic trouble too—so we can go in and help out.”
The LED lights and controlled environment help the food be produced faster. A seed that usually would take 30 days to grow can reach its full development in 16 days, according to Rosenberg. That shorter span of time in return allows the facility to have 22 crop turns per year instead of just three in a normal field.
In times when the weather can be quite unpredictable because of climate change, the vertical farm also offers stability.
“There are currently five medium-to-large vertical farms operating in the United States and over ten smaller ones (mainly growing microgreens and herbs). All of them are planning on expanding,” says Maximilian Loessl, Co-founder and Vice Chair of the Association for Vertical Farming. “We are estimating that the numbers will double next year.”
Loessi’s predictions might just pan out seeing that an increasing amount of people are searching for fewer pesticides in their food and the cost of running a facility like that has lowered in recent years.
Image Credit: Aerofarms