DIRECTOR OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, KENNETT TOWNSHIP
Michael Guttman is the Director of Sustainable Development for Kennett Township, Pennsylvania. The Kennett area’s claim to fame is as the historic epicenter of the US mushroom industry, generating some $500M in yearly sales and supplying about 50% of the US fresh mushroom market. This also happens to make Kennett the largest single concentration of vertical farming in the world. Mr. Guttman is responsible for a major public-private initiative to attract other indoor crops to Kennett by leveraging its extensive growing, packing, cold storage, logistics, and shipping infrastructure. His long-term goal is to remake Kennett into a global center for all forms in indoor agriculture. In a prior life, Mr. Guttman was a serial software innovator and entrepreneur.
Growing a Sustainable Indoor Agriculture Community
Much of the promise of indoor agriculture is not just sustainably producing healthy food, but building sustainable healthy communities. More than 100 years ago, the Kennett area was already a regional center of indoor agriculture, supplying much of the US East Coast with greenhouse-grown flowers and vegetables. Prior to WWII, a sideline in mushroom farming and canning grew to dominate the US market, eclipsing all other local economic pursuits and turning the entire community into ‘the mushroom capital of the world.’ Subsequently, in order to maintain that dominant market position – and the $2.6B economic impact it has on the regional economy – Kennett has gone through multiple evolutionary adaptations in response to technological innovation, competition, and the ever-changing whims of the consumer marketplace. Today, Kennett is betting that its best path to further growth is to leverage its long-term expertise in indoor agriculture – and its extensive supporting infrastructure – to diversify into other indoor crops, including greens, pharmaceuticals and nutriceuticals. In this talk, we’ll discuss how Kennett evolved as a specialized indoor agriculture community, and how it plans to evolve once again to become a global center of research, development, production and distribution for all forms of indoor agriculture.