AeroFarms Wins Circular Economy Honor

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A single tree blossoms thousands of times, part of a beautiful biology that continues the species. Yet, of those thousands of blossoms, we do not consider those that do not become another tree wasteful. Instead, they are beautiful, and useful. Those that don’t lead to another tree start to decompose and begin a cycle of nourishment where the biological building blocks of the blossom are fed back into the parent tree. The circle of life.

This illustration is used repeatedly in Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, a book that describes in a growing wave of persuasion the need for what’s known as a circular economy.

Vertical farming strives towards this type of system, and one farm in particular has been recognized for embodying this ideology. Many of you know AeroFarms for recently raising millions in funding to build the worlds largest vertical aeroponic farm in Newark. AeroFarms is a finalist for the World Economic Forum (WEF) Ecolab Award for Circular Economy Enterprise. Whether or not they win the award, this is an honor for sure.

AeroFarms Circular Economy
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Martian Food Tech Crash Landing On A Farm Near You

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“Hell yeah I’m a botanist! Fear my botany powers!” – Mark Watney

The newest space film The Martian predicts a future where plant knowledge is not only imperative for human advancement but for astronaut Mark Watney’s very survival. I was just at the NASA headquarters in Washington, DC  and even the best minds there weren’t immune to the buzz around this fall’s hottest flick, constantly asking how Veggie, NASA’s new micro-gravity plant growth system, will be used on Mars. During the entire meeting, I was conscious of something important: a synthesis between vertical farming technologies and space exploration that goes far deeper than what the general public seems to realize. Keep reading to learn more about:

  • Veggie, NASA’s new way to grow food in space
  • Plant pillow propagation
  • What farming on Mars would even look like

space farm vertical hydroponic farming
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Vertical Farming Company Indoor Harvest Is At It Again

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Indoor Harvest is a vertical farming design company that recently announced the results of an aeroponic pilot system and the next steps in the ongoing Cannabis Production Pilot Project with Tweed, the leading producer of medical marijuana in Canada.

After interviewing founder Chad Sykes, who famously told me not to grow lettuce, to celebrate their 1 month series A funding anniversary, we realized it was high time to shed some more light on what this company is doing. Indoor Harvest photo marijuana vertical farm tech company

As reported by the company:

The initial aeroponic Pilot Project took place between March and August 2015. A sativa dominant strain, Ghost Train Haze, was selected and 8 plants were grown in a 4′ X 8′ X 2′ system using a “Screen of Green” cultivation method, in which plants are cropped and trained to produce a higher yield from a single plant. Indoor Harvest’s patent pending aeroponic system showed a significant increase in growth rate during the vegetative stage, as compared to more traditional production methods such as drip irrigation using coco.

Fertilizer usage was reduced by as much as 68% with the system averaging 8 gallons a day under high pressure sodium and 9 gallons a day under LED, operating drain to waste. As tuning of the system progressed, average water use was reduced to approximately 5 gallons per day drain to waste. Indoor Harvest believes that through additional tuning, more water savings for drain to waste and under recirculated operation can be achieved, and water use could be reduced by as much as 98% overall. Under 2,000 watts of high-pressure sodium lighting, the aeroponic system produced 3.1 pounds of dried flowers and under 1,040 watts of LED lighting produced 2.8 pounds of dried flowers in its initial test.

Chad and his team want to design really good systems that work within the reality of what vertical farming can achieve in its current form. He once told me that he turned away 90% of the people that came to talk to him about vertical farming because they had no idea what it was going to take. This is a company that seems to strive for excellence and the fact that they are putting data out there, hopefully in partnership with MIT CityFarm soon, means a lot to the vertical farming industry.

The Expert Vertical Farming Business Model From Indoor Harvest

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One of the first things Chad Sykes told me was that “there’s just not much money in growing lettuce.” He was one of the original people I reached out to in the industry and these words were not quite…inspirational.

Find out his unique approach to vertical farming and more below. We talk about:

  • Biomanufacturing phytochemicals
  • Alternative industry business models
  • Cannabis
  • Indoor Harvest only pays $10 a month!?

Chad Sykes Image Urban Vertical Project Interview Pro Vertical Farm
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