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vertical farm in newark Nj to produce over 2 million pounds of produce per yearvertical farm in newark Nj to produce over 2 million pounds of produce per year

World's Largest Vertical Farm in New Jersey to Produce 2M Pounds of Produce

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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.

Via Fox Business

Image Credit: Aerofarms

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  • Mary Rounds Tagliarino

    Will the crops be ORGANIC and NON-GMO….?

    • DisqussingThought

      Short answer: YES. The only reason for GMOs is to enable massive spraying with toxic pesticides and herbicides to protect the crop while it grows in the field. AeroFarms stacks its produce inside climate controlled buildings where pests and other crop destroying calamities (such as flood, drought, excess heat from the sun, or excess cold temperatures). So, no GMO crops. Just appropriate farming practices and lots of care and attention (same as any crop grown in a field, that part won’t change).

      Organic is another matter entirely. According to the organic certifying organizations, the only criteria to be organic is that you use no pesticides and fertilize the crop with the shite (feces if you will) of an animal or other creature. I wonder if most “organic” enthusiasts actually know this fact. I can imagine a waiter at an organic restaurant proudly describing their food as “grown in the finest poop” available.

      Personally, I don’t want food grown in animal turds. Every bite I chew would pick away at my brain, bite after bite as I realize I’m eating more and more byproducts of poop, crap, dung, and turds. Yum yum. I’ll bet your salivary glands are working overtime thinking about the huge mounds of turds that your food came out of, makes the mouth water doesn’t it? Not mine. Not at all.

      Hydroponic growing uses natural minerals, some of which are today tossed into land fills due to lack of a market for them. There are also several companies making nutrients from sea water or from naturally occurring deposits of minerals on the sea floor (the latter being not my favorite as it has to be a limited resource).

      • Eh. Organic farming does not mean putting turds on food. And anyhow, your average food plant acts as a quite efficient reverse osmosis filter. One key advantage to organic food is that it prohibits GMO–a trend in food production which encompasses more than pesticide resistance; GMO crops are designed for higher yields and longer shelf-life. These are produced in clear violation of the precautionary prinicple.

        (Note that the residents of the space station were not allowed to eat food grown in zero gravity until it was tried out on rodents back on Earth beforehand.)

        • Spyda man

          Marcus lit you UP on RawStory!!

        • DisqussingThought

          Food grown in space was first tested in a lab to make sure it was not harmful and that it had the essential nutrients that it should. And it passed that test and every subsequent test.

          Organic certification allows “raw manure” (that is turds, you don’t have to believe it because it’s the truth) to be put on crops up to 90 days prior to HARVEST. Raw manure is poop, crap, shite, turds, #2, whatever you want to call it but don’t deny the facts. Raw manure could contain any disease but Salmonella and E-Coli are the two most common health concerns.

          Also, “organic” food does nothing to end the wasteful practice of shipping produce thousands of miles to consumers. “Organic” farms still need all that expensive equipment that burns fossil fuels and pollutes the environment. So we still have the fossil fuels double whammy to our environment and our health.

          So, you have a half solution like “organic” or you can choose an actual solution like hydroponics grown near the consumer or grown in vertical farms next to or very close to the consumer. Why settle for a half solution to a problem?

          • Derp “90 days prior to harvest” means “not on food” derp.

  • S.L.

    What will the produce from this greenhouse cost for consumers? Will this mollycoddled produce be so expensive that it will only benefit the wealthy? What will be the source of the nutrients? How much energy will be consumed for each pound of produce? With the sort of start up funding this greenhouse has received, I’m concerned that this is the start of a 2 tiered food system to insure attractive fresh produce for the rich, when food shortages emerge.

    • DisqussingThought

      Those with excess money already can enjoy “organic” produce that most of us cannot afford. So your fears of a “2-tier” food system actually describe the current food production system.

      Because AeroFarms can get 22 crops per year versus 3 per year in field grown produce they will be able to keep costs down and the vertical stacking allows additional multiples of production per square foot. This will keep costs down and therefore enable more people to afford pesticide free, highly nutritious, and fresh produce all year round (none of which can be said for crops grown in the field).

      The biggest benefit will be the ability to locate these AeroFarms closer to the end consumers of the produce, reducing and possibly eliminating transportation costs and the pollution that is the natural outcome of shipping food thousands of miles to get it to your table.

      • S.L.

        I don’t have a lot of money and I garden most of my veggies and some of my fruits, but when I buy food, I buy organic food whenever I can and some things like strawberries I always buy organic. If one shops carefully it can be pretty affordable. I’d be hard pressed to call current organic food a 2 tier food system. Perhaps in NJ organics are already a 2 tiered food system, but not where I live.

        If you think that they won’t be using pesticides in AeroFarms, then you are a fool. They might use less, because they won’t be using them quite as indiscriminately as some farmers do, but they will use them. Some pests build up faster in greenhouses then they do in the outdoors, and there are no predator insects in a greenhouse unless someone brings them in. Predator insects are an expensive way to control pests if you need to buy enough of them to make a dent in a 30 story greenhouse pest problem. Pesticides are much cheaper, so they will be used.

        The more I think about it, this project is probably a way to build and make a bit of profit on the building, before it’s turned into commercial Cannabis growing, once it’s legal in NJ. The it won’t be food for anyone anymore.

        • DisqussingThought

          Your logic is flawed. How will pests get into a sealed building? All they have to do is put those air curtain fans, like all restaurants and shops had in the 60s and 70s above the door, to keep insects out. And even if one or two got in they would only destroy a few plants before being discovered. No pesticides needed. If the building is designed properly it will keep all pests out. You think that someone with the money to put in all the vertical farming equipment, the environmental controls, the timers and computers and monitoring equipment, you think they will just leave the doors wide open and allow anything and everything to fly or crawl right in??? You are the fool if that is the basis of your argument.

          There is over 1 million acres of crop production in greenhouses today. There may be some operators who are too ignorant to spend a few hundred dollars on equipment and bug screens to keep pests out. But they won’t be in business for very long and are so few as to be inconsequential. Your statement shows your lack of knowledge about the greenhouse industry.

          You claim that “organic” fruits and vegetables are not much more expensive than conventional crops where you live. You’ll have to prove that statement. Everyone I know or communicate with on garden and greenhouse forums says otherwise. Prove your false claim.

          “Organic” = grown in turds that came out of an animals butt. Mmm. You like the sound of that don’t you. Well I don’t and when more people are educated about exactly what the “organic” practices are they will stop thinking it’s worth it to pay far higher prices for salmonella and E. Coli tainted poop food labeled “organic” on the package.

          • S.L.

            You seem to think technology can solve all problems, but in all the study on the topic and communication with growers I’ve ever done on greenhouses, they always discus PEST MANAGEMENT, because it is always an ongoing struggle to keep the pests under control. Yes, there are high tech devices that can help keep pests out, but unless you plan to sterilize everything, including the skin, hair and clothes of human workers, every time, before allowing anything into the green house, pests will gain entrance to the greenhouse. Many plant pests are small and everywhere outdoors. Spider mites, for example, will cling to hair, clothing and packages and get into green houses by riding on things and people who enter through the door. All the screens in the world won’t change that.

            I live in an area that grows a lot of organics. I shop carefully, in season, and watch for sales. The fact that I grow a lot of my own vegetables means I usually have a choice about if it’s worth buying, or not. For example, I won’t buy cauliflower when it’s expensive and I never buy kale or chard, because I grow plenty of my own. Still when I do buy organic, I’m careful and keep track of prices, so I don’t waste money. This is why I don’t find organics all that much more expensive then conventional. Of course my method does require personal responsibility, and growing some of my own, and not everyone is up for that.

            My own garden is grown with manure from my chickens. I’ve has chickens for 15 years and my family have never become ill from using our hens manure on the garden. This is because we handle it correctly, and compost it before applying it, or cover cropping areas where we have let the chickens do crop clean up on before planting again with food.

            Manure has been used in agriculture for at least 8000 years. It is part of building healthy and rich soil. Your paranoia and the language you use about using manure in agriculture, shows that you have a great deal of ignorance about gardening, and agriculture in general.

          • DisqussingThought

            Pest management does not mean using pesticides. Many greenhouse growers bring in beneficial insects to control pests. Some spray Neem Oil, which comes from the Neem tree and is edible but not tasty but washes off anyway. One fact that you seem to be unaware of is that insects are not likely to attack a healthy and robust plant so that is another form of “pest management” that hydroponic greenhouse growers have on their side.

            As far as pests catching a ride on incoming greenhouse workers you again show your lack of knowledge about best practices for greenhouse growers. You’re using a “kitchen sink” style of argumentation that shows you are grasping at thin air in a vain attempt to “win” the argument. Personally, I don’t care if you think you “win” or not. I’m just trying to educate people and point out incorrect assumptions or presuppositions about “organic” produce and hydroponic produce.

            And once again, once insect damage is detected those plants are removed and destroyed. I just finished reading about a hydroponic greenhouse grower with 25,000 tomato plants (who also grows pepper plants but they did not say the number). Do you think this company, with this size of operation, is going to be stupid enough to fail to follow good practices for greenhouse growing. And they would not think twice about throwing out hundreds of plants if it meant saving the rest. But they have staff inspect the plants constantly. It seems like you’re imagining that growers just throw seeds or seedlings into place and walk away for months at a time. That is utter nonsense. Conventional farmers work tirelessly to inspect their crop and are now even using drones to spot problems in their field grown crops. Greenhouse growers do the same, they just don’t need to walk miles to do that same work since plant density is much higher and vertical stacking allows staff easier access to all plants.

            PS, I love your “scientific sample” of 1 in your futile effort to justify using animal turds that squirt out of an animal’s butt on your food. Pinch a loaf and put it on your food? You just can’t get enough of it, I can tell. But I can guarantee you that if everyone knew that “organic certified” crops can have raw manure spread onto the crops at any time up to 90 days before harvest they would think twice about paying an outrageously high price for the privilege of eating potentially contaminated food. I’d love to see you stand outside an “organic” grocer or farmers market with a trunk full of pamphlets showing exactly what “organic” certification means and hand them out to all the poop eaters as they self-righteously emerge with their pricey poop food in hand. Haha. I’d probably be rolling on the ground laughing so hard.

          • S.L.

            Sorry DisqussingThought, there is no way to have a reasonable discussion or debate with you. I’m sure you will crow about how you “won”, but you didn’t and there is no prize. I’m not going to waste anymore of my valuable time on you.

          • DisqussingThought

            Since you are the one being unreasonable, I agree with you completely. Bring up some actual facts and not just your opinion. Link to studies. Link to impartial and credible sources to prove your claims. You have done none of that thus far.

            I could deluge you with information that show that “organic” produce is no more nutritious than field grown conventional crops, that show that growing with hydroponics saves 70% to 95% of the water of growing outdoors in soil, that show hydroponics yields are far higher per square foot, and that hydroponics uses a fraction of the nutrients that conventional farming needs. Plus, hydroponic farms can be located close to the consumer and therefore almost eliminate CO2 emissions, air pollution, and fossil fuel use caused by shipping produce from “organic” farms located 1500 miles away during the winter (or summer depending on the crop).

            Farmers who grow in turds are fighting to ban “organic” certification from all hydroponic farms, even though there are OMRI certified organic nutrients specifically made for hydroponic farming and all hydroponic growing can easily pass “organic” certification. Thousands of hydroponic farmers have decided it’s not worth the cost and effort of getting certified because there is such a dirty smear campaign against them. This is how I know that turd farmers are scared and want to kill off the superior growing method that is hydroponics and vertical farming using hydroponics.

          • This one showed up in a thread just to upvote Kir(Politicoid)… a known “Intellectual” troll.


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