Tag: controlled environment agriculture

Arama Kukutai CEO Plenty

5 Questions With Plenty CEO Arama Kukutai

Indoor Ag-Con is excited to welcome Plenty CEO Arama Kukutai to our keynote stage to give the opening morning  address on Monday, February 27, 2023.  Ahead of his keynote, we asked  Arama about some of the company’s exciting developments;  the challenges, trends and opportunities he sees for our industry; and what’s next for Plenty.  Read more in this month’s CEO Q&A:

In  September of 2022 Plenty announced plans to build the world’s largest indoor vertical farm campus near Richmond, VA.  Can you share more details on this exciting project?

We’re building a first-of-its-kind campus of indoor vertical farms, which is significant for a few reasons. The structure of a cluster of farms on a shared site creates increased efficiencies as well as the opportunity to grow a wider variety of crops at scale on a single site. The Plenty Richmond Farm Campus has a potential annual production capacity of more than 20 million pounds of fresh produce. First up is our strawberry farm, which we broke ground on last fall and expect to deliver berries in market with our partner Driscoll’s in 2024.

Plenty and Indoor Ag-Con

Speaking of growth, can you also share any updates on your Compton, CA  farm – including why you selected that location and how it fits into Plenty’s mission and growth strategy? 

We want to be a part of building a food future where everyone has affordable access to fresh produce. The Plenty Compton Farm, which will be fully operational this year, is our first commercial farm, so it’s the culmination of nearly a decade of R&D and a major step forward in scaling our growing capabilities. We’re proud to be bringing agriculture back to Compton, and working with local retailers to increase affordable access to our produce for California and the western U.S.

In your opinion, what are the key challenges that the CEA/Vertical Farm industry must overcome?

Achieving scale, and scaling with positive unit economics, is the key challenge vertical farming has to overcome to be a permanent part of our food system. Energy consumption is also a challenge for our industry, so it’s important to prioritize energy efficiency as well as choose locations with access to cleaner energy sources.

As Co-Founder of Finistere Ventures, a venture firm dedicated to Agrifood investment, what trends or innovations in the industry are you most excited about?

There’s so much innovation happening to shape a new future for food that is more sustainable and equitable. The last decade saw more than $120 billion invested in innovation, now it’s time to demonstrate the commercial proof points. I’m most excited about the development of a hybrid agriconomy that brings together vertical farming, cultivation and fermentation to scale food production in ways that are better for the planet.

Plenty and Indoor Ag-Con 2023What’s next for Plenty?

Our focus for the immediate future  is applying our technology and plant science R&D to commercial farms so we can scale our reach here in the U.S. and build our first international site. Beyond that, we’re continuing to expand our plant science innovation work to diversify the crops we have in market – strawberries are coming next, tomatoes and more are on the horizon. We are also going to announce new partnerships around financing the indoor asset class.

To learn more about Plenty, visit the website.  And, make plans to join us for the 10th Anniversary Edition of Indoor Ag-Con, February 27-28, 2023 to hear Arama’s keynote address AND be part of the largest vertical farming & controlled environment agriculture gathering in the USA!  Learn more. 

Rick Vanzura Freight Farms

The Future Of CEA Is Our Shared Responsibility

People work and harvest in Freight Farms’ container farm, the Greenery™ S

Hi, I’m Rick Vanzura, CEO of Freight Farms. Our vision is a world in which resilient and self-sufficient communities grow through local food and sustainable food systems, which we strive to make a reality through our indoor farming technology. We build our hydroponic farms inside 40’ x 8’ shipping containers that are precisely controlled and climate independent. Each container farm enables farmers to produce 2+ acres of fresh, hyper-local food annually, no matter where in the world they put the farm. This distributed model is central to Freight Farms’ mission. As part of a decentralized network, Freight Farmers — who make up the largest IoT-connected network of commercial farms — have access to the knowledge and support of other growers from around the world via our farmhand® software. This includes hundreds of for-profit, educational, and nonprofit farmers.

A container farm in transit to the Bahamas, where it is being put to work growing produce for the community.

Over the last year, an increased focus on a return for the billions of dollars invested has put the indoor agriculture industry under pressure. This was inevitable and is, to some extent, welcome. It will force all of us to be much more focused on strong business models, energy consumption, and wise allocation of resources. It also will encourage the industry to work together to highlight the advantages of controlled environment agriculture and indoor farming in both the near and distant future. Issues of declining land and water availability will not go away. The population will not stop increasing. Climate change is a reality. We will need all forms of agriculture to mitigate these issues and feed the planet.

Freight Farms
Freight Farms’ container farm, the Greenery™ S, alight with high-power, high-efficiency LED grow lights.

I hope to see many of you at Indoor Ag Con, where we can continue to explore the issues and opportunities facing the industry and find ways to collaborate. CEA and indoor farming take many forms, but we share a common goal of providing climate-independent access to food around the world. Let’s tackle the pressing issues of energy usage and business model viability to continue to prove our value to both consumers and the planet. As the current investor climate illustrates, we have no time to waste. A win for any of us is a win for all of us.

About Freight Farms:

Freight FarmsFounded in 2012, Freight Farms debuted the first vertical hydroponic farm built inside an intermodal shipping container with the mission of democratizing and decentralizing the local production of fresh, healthy food. Since its inception, Freight Farms has refined its product offering to arrive at the Greenery™ S container farm. With global customers ranging from small business farmers to the corporate, hospitality, retail, education, and nonprofit sectors, Freight Farmers make up the largest network of connected farms in the world. AgTech Breakthrough named Freight Farms the 2022 “IoT Monitoring Solution of the Year” for its farmhand® IoT automation software.

 

To learn more, visit freightfarms.com , an 2023 Indoor Ag-Con sponsor or connect on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or TikTok.

Jiffy Group at Indoor Ag-Con 2023

Jiffy Group: Growing Media Solution for CEA

Soil and water are the two most crucial resources for feeding the world’s expanding population. For this reason, more people may be able to be fed with fewer resources by adopting the practice of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA).

The Global controlled environment agriculture substrate market is projected to witness a Y-o-Y growth of 15.1% in 2027*. That’s why Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) is an exciting segment in horticulture.

What Jiffy solutions are best for CEA?

Jiffy GroupJiffy Growing Solutions Logo is renowned for the outstanding quality of its growing media.

Growers know they can rely on Jiffy year in year out to supply them with a wide range of solutions that are clean, safe, sustainable, and innovative. Jiffy got decades of experience selling to greenhouse growers, and products like Preforma, Growbags, and Pellets are clean and easy to use, with organic options.

*Report from Dee Market Insights Pvt. Ltd.

See Jiffy Group at the February 27-28, 2023 edition of Indoor Ag-Con in booth 918.

Visit the Jiffy Group website to read the full story!

Equilibrium CEO Dave Chen Indoor Ag-Con Keynote

Equilibrium CEO Dave Chen Joins CEO Keynote Line-Up For Las Vegas 2023 Indoor Ag-Con

Equilibrium CEO Dave Chen will lead the day two opening morning keynote address for the 10th annual edition of Indoor Ag-Con, February 27-28, 2023, at Caesars Forum, Las Vegas, NV. Themed “The Future of Farming Grows Here,” the largest vertical farming & controlled environment agriculture (CEA) gathering in the United States will give attendees the opportunity to hear from Chen and other thought leaders from today’s top farms and CEA companies; enjoy terrific networking opportunities; and explore new resources from a significantly expanded exhibitor roster.

The keynote address will be held Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 8:00 AM.

“We are excited to have Dave Chen kick off day two of our February 2023 edition,” says Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con. “Controlled environment agriculture is at an inflection moment in the sector’s    growth and development, and Dave will offer valuable insights into the realities and opportunities the industry faces as we move forward.”

Founded in 2008, Equilibrium Capital has built a platform of real assets-focused, sustainability-driven investment strategies for institutional investors. Equilibrium currently manages $2 billion in two portfolio strategies: Carbon Transition Infrastructure and Controlled Environment Foods.

Dave is Equilibrium’s CEO and serves on the boards of several of its fund portfolio companies.  He started his career at Solectron, McKinsey, and as a general partner with OVP Venture Partners.  He served on the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Board system until 2012, and was a board member of B Labs until 2018.  Dave has, for 14 years, been a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg Business School equipping students for sustainable investing.

2023 CONFERENCE SCHEDULE FEATURES NEW FORMATS, 70+ SPEAKERS
Chen’s presentation joins the Indoor Ag-Con 2023 CEO headliner keynote line-up, which also includes the opening morning kick-off session with Arama Kukutai, CEO, Plenty.  Look for another announcement coming soon about the event’s third keynote address. In addition to these headliner keynotes, the 2023 educational conference will also feature insightful panel sessions featured within three comprehensive educational tracks – grower; trends & innovation; and funding & guidance. Attendees can also look forward to new friendly debate formats and fireside chats, too.

EXPANDED EXHIBIT FLOOR
2023 will welcome the largest number of exhibitors in the event’s 10-year history. From irrigation and LED lighting to environmental control systems, substrates, greenhouse equipment, energy solutions, business services and more, attendees will have the chance to see the latest introductions and innovations from vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture leaders in 174 booths.

CO-LOCATION WITH NATIONAL GROCERS ASSOCATION SHOW
Indoor Ag-Con will once again co-locate with the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show, the leading trade show and conference for independent grocers, offering even more networking and business opportunities for attendees and exhibitors alike. The NGA Show and Indoor Ag-Con visitors will have the opportunity to explore both exhibit halls as part of the full conference pass offerings.

MORE NETWORKING
Exhibitors and attendees can enjoy complimentary luncheons on the show floor each day, a show floor cocktail reception, breakout sessions and other opportunities to reconnect with friends and meet new business partners.

QUICK FACTS:
WHEN: Monday, February 27 – Tuesday, February 28, 2023
WHERE: Caesars Forum, 3911 Koval Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89101
INFO: For information on exhibiting or attending visit www.indoor.ag or email suzanne@indoor.ag

ABOUT INDOOR AG-CON LLC
Indoor Ag-Con is the largest US trade event for vertical farming | indoor agriculture |controlled environment agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis | hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. More information: www.indoor.ag

Crop One CEA Craig Ratajczyk

‘Making Global Food Local’ | Q&A With Crop One CEO Craig Ratajczyk

Last week Crop One announced the opening of its second U.S. farm, located in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania.    Earlier this year, it partnered with Emirates Flight Catering to open the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai.  The company is also raising the bar in the plant science arena with its Plants First ™ approach, other innovations and truly putting its marketing phrase “Making Global Food Local” in action.  Indoor Ag-Con is excited to welcome Crop One CEO Craig Ratajczyk  to our growing speaker roster for the upcoming February 2023 edition. And, we had the chance to catch up Craig in this month’s CEO Q&A to learn more about the company’s exciting developments and plans.

Emerites-Crop One Earlier this year, Crop One and its partner Emirates Flight Catering celebrated the opening of ECO 1 (Emirates Crop One), the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai. Can you share a little about your mission and goals for this incredible new facility?

Given the arid land and climate, the UAE currently imports over 85% of its fresh produce, with over 30,000 tons of leafy greens imported each year. One of our goals is for ECO 1 to increase food security and food sovereignty in the region by providing sustainably-grown leafy greens to the UAE market. It’s a 330,000-square-foot facility, spanning three floors with an output of about 3 tons per day, and over one million plants being grown at any given time. Hydroponic cultivation uses up to 95% less water than traditional outdoor farming, which gets to another one of our goals for the new facility: to bring fresh, local produce to areas that might not otherwise have access to it given the harsh desert climate.

ECO 1 serves as a strong proof point for how additional vertical farms could be scaled and replicated around the globe, meeting consumer demand and providing food sovereignty to any region that needs it.

There’s a good bit of talk about innovation in the vertical farming arena these days.  What is Crop One up to and what differentiates you from some of the other leaders in the marketplace today?

Crop One is leading the way when it comes to advances in plant science, and we’re particularly excited about a new plant-based protein that we’re researching alongside fellow industry experts. We are confident that this new innovation will open up additional market opportunities. We look forward to sharing more about this in the coming weeks.

Emerites -Crop OneDuring Indoor Ag-Con, you’ll be participating in our “Food Security Through CEA” panel.  What is one of the key messages you hope to share during this session?

The threats to our global food security are steadily increasing — a rapidly growing global population (as you probably saw, we just surpassed the 8 billion mark), declining arable land, climate change and increasingly severe weather events, and continued supply chain disruptions. These conditions are endangering the food futures of people all over the world, particularly those in places where they might not have the infrastructure or resources needed to overcome new food challenges. One of the key messages I hope to share during the session is that with so many of these threats entirely out of our control, we must focus on new technologies that can overcome — not eliminate — these hurdles. While traditional outdoor agriculture may have worked for the last millennia, it’s not the solution to sustain us into the future.

Emerites-Crop OneCrop One sells its fresh, local produce to 30+ US retail stores under the FreshBox Farms brand. Your marketing for the brand highlights   Crop One’s “ Plants First” ™ approach.   What is that and why is an important part of your messaging?

Unlike other vertical farming companies, Crop One has a Plants First™approach, which recognizes that advances in technology and plant science are synergistic, so the main focus is how to effectively and efficiently grow plants in an artificial environment based on their biology. Only then do we automate the process. The Plants First approach takes a few factors into consideration including plant science, digital systems and innovation, operational efficiency and hardware, together all ensuring that we create the most nutritious and tasty product on the market.

 

Crop One PA Farm

 

What’s Next for Crop One – plans for expansion?

Excitingly, we just announced our second U.S. farm, located in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania. The 316,000-square-foot facility allows us to reach up to 50 million consumers within a 200-mile radius across the tristate and Mid-Atlantic areas, including customers in New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. This new farm will allow us to meet growing retailer demand, while also introducing new consumers across the tristate area to the benefits of hydroponically grown produce.

Learn more about Crop One by visiting the website.

And be sure to put Craig’s Indoor Ag-Con 2023 panel session on your schedule:

Food Security Through CEA
10 am – 10:50 AM PST | Monday, February 27
See Full Conference Schedule

Your Thoughts | Help Shape CEA Workforce Development Curriculum

Juan Garcia Assistant Research Professor Juan Cabrera-Garcia and the research team at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) are conducting a study to identify the knowledge and skills needed at different job hierarchies in the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry. The survey results will help UMKC identify relevant topics needed to develop curriculum focused on CEA.

If you choose to be in this study, simply complete this brief survey that will only take about 5 minutes of your time to complete.

Your participation is entirely voluntary; you may skip any questions that you don’t want to answer or choose to stop participating at any time.

Your responses will be anonymous; there is no way for the research team to identify you or your responses to the survey. At the end of the survey, you will be asked if you wish to participate in a raffle for a chance to win one  full conference pass  to attend Indoor Ag-Con, February 27-28, 2023.  If you agree to participate, you will be taken to a separate survey so you can provide your contact details.

Do you have any questions about the research study? Please contact Juan Cabrera-Garcia at jcabrera-garcia@missouri.edu If you have questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant, you can call the UMKC Research Compliance at 816-235-5927.

If you want to participate in this study, click the following link to start the survey.

https://missouri.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dbs8EYmtqxqcG9M

The survey is now open and will close at midnight on Friday, January 20, 2023.

MORE INFO

Juan Cabrera-Garcia

Assistant Research Professor

University of Missouri – Kansas City

Horticulture State Specialist for MU Extension

jcabrera-garcia@missouri.edu

Jiffy.IndoorAgCon2022

Top Reasons To Be Part Of The Premier Event For Indoor Agriculture

This February, Indoor Ag-Con will return to Las Vegas and bring together the entire indoor vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture community. 

With an unmatched program and exhibit hall, you won’t want to miss this annual event scheduled for February 27-28, 2023. Here are the top reasons it’s a must-attend event.

>Register now to take advantage of the early-bird rate and save!<

1.Learn from the brightest minds in the field 


With two idea-packed days of education, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds and inspirational thought leaders in the field of agriculture. 

Education is offered in a variety of formats including keynotes, insightful panel sessions and new fireside chats. The program is designed to enhance your career and grow your business in new ways. 

 

2. Expansive vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture marketplace


Explore the latest innovations from the largest number of exhibitors in Indoor Ag-Con’s 10-year history. Inside the exhibit hall, you’ll find state-of-the art products and services from the top suppliers. From irrigation and LED lighting, to environmental control systems, substrates, greenhouse equipment, energy solutions, business services, and more!

The Indoor Ag-Con Expo Floor is open on Monday, February 27 from 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm PST and Tuesday, February 28 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm PST. 

 

>Register now to take advantage of the early-bird pricing!<

Indoor Ag-Con 2022 Lunch 23. Connect with industry professionals from across the country

 

At Indoor Ag-Con, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and expand your network like never before. This includes growers, top suppliers, distributors, investors, start-ups, and educators. 

Indoor Ag-Con will once again co-locate with the National Grocers Association (NGA) for even more networking and business opportunities. 

 

UrbanGro.IndoorAgCon20224. Experience the 10-Year anniversary of Indoor Ag-Con

 

We’re a decade strong and continuing to grow! And now is the perfect time to be part of our growth and immerse yourself in the future of farming. This year will feature more exhibits than ever, three education tracks to keep you up-to-date on best practices, and exclusive opportunities to network. 

More than a conference, Indoor Ag-Con is the place for business connections, ideas, AND it’s the marketplace for technology trends and product innovation. 

 

>Act now to take advantage of discounted registration, available only for a limited time!<
Visitors congregate around a Jiffy exhibit at Indoor Ag-Con.

Expo Floor Doubles For 10th Anniversary Edition of Indoor Ag-Con Las Vegas

(NOVEMBER 29, 2022) — As the largest, longest-running trade show and conference for vertical farming |controlled environment agriculture in the US, Indoor Ag-Con heads back to Caesars Forum Conference Center in Las Vegas for its 10th annual edition. Co-locating with The National Grocers Association (NGA Show) from February 27-28, 2023, Indoor Ag-Con will give attendees more to explore than ever before, including an expo floor that has more than doubled – from 82 to 174 booths.

“Our 2022 show attendance experienced double digit growth over 2021, which has fueled the significant growth of our exhibitor participation for 2023,” says Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con. “We know that time is money for our attendee base and we’re pulling out all the stops to deliver the best use of both to continue growing our audience. From an expo floor filled with the industry’s top suppliers to an engaging, interactive conference program to quality networking opportunities, attendees will find everything they need to grow their businesses –in the shortest amount of time, at the most reasonable price, all under one roof.”

Show highlights for the 2023 edition include:

EXPANDED EXHIBIT FLOOR
2023 will welcome the largest number of exhibitors in the event’s 10-year history. From irrigation and LED lighting to environmental control systems, substrates, greenhouse equipment, energy solutions, business services and more, attendees will have the chance to see the latest introductions and innovations from vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture leaders in 174 booths.

ROBUST 2023 CONFERENCE SCHEDULE, NEW FORMATS NOW IN DEVELOPMENT
Now in development, the 2023 educational conference will feature 3 headliner keynotes and insightful panel sessions featured within three comprehensive educational tracks – grower; trends & innovation; and funding & guidance. In addition, attendees can look forward to new friendly debate formats and fireside chats, too.

CO-LOCATION WITH NATIONAL GROCERS ASSOCATION SHOW
Indoor Ag-Con will once again co-locate with the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show, the leading trade show and conference for independent grocers, offering even more networking and business opportunities for attendees and exhibitors alike. The NGA Show and Indoor Ag-Con visitors will have the opportunity to explore both exhibit halls as part of the full conference pass offerings.

MORE NETWORKING
Exhibitors and attendees can enjoy complimentary luncheons on the show floor each day, a show floor cocktail reception, breakout sessions and other opportunities to reconnect with friends and meet new business partners.

QUICK FACTS:
WHEN: Monday, February 27 – Tuesday, February 28, 2023
WHERE: Caesars Forum, 3911 Koval Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89101
INFO: For information on exhibiting or attending visit www.indoor.ag or email suzanne@indoor.ag

ABOUT INDOOR AG-CON LLC
Indoor Ag-Con is the largest US trade event for vertical farming | indoor agriculture |controlled environment agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis | hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. More information: www.indoor.ag

Jennifer Waxman Seed2Source

Where Agriculture Meets Wellness: Q&A With Seed2Source Founder Jennifer Waxman

Jennifer Waxman The Villages GrownAfter successfully guiding The Villages Grown™ to its current position as a vertically integrated, 84-acre total footprint, controlled environment agriculture (CEA), year-round, produce growing operation in Central Florida,  Jennifer Waxman is heading back to her roots.  That is, she’s turning her focus back to Seed2Source, the firm she launched in 2005 driven by her “agriculture meets wellness” passion and vision.

Indoor Ag-Con is thrilled to have Jennifer on our Advisory Board, as a speaker at the upcoming CEA Summit East in Virginia next week , and Indoor Ag-Con in Las Vegas in February 2023.  We had the chance to catch up with this busy CEA industry leader to learn more about her vision and plans in this month’s Q&A

For the last 6 years, you’ve overseen the impressive growth and development of The Villages Grown.  Why was the timing right to leave that post to focus on Seed2Source?

We were given the honor and trust to carry out our vision and model for The Villages Grown. This included the strategic direction, design, construction, and operation of a first-of-kind CEA in the South. We backed this with educational programming from both B2C and B2B. We built a community-based brand yet grew enough product for expansion throughout Florida. We worked with beautiful people in a beautiful community.

However, it is no secret that CEA is only scratching the surface in the US. We knew we wanted to be at the head of the ride with its growth. Several players in the CEA sector were showing intrigue and interest in our model. I believe this was rooted in our ability to build a strong brand, educate, all the while supporting other local farmers along the way.

I’ve learned a lot since entering the hydroponics sector in 2000. This is when I started to conceive this model of holistic wellness and was based on my global travels, thus observing the ‘Future of Food’. There is a lot to share from a rather long career in this sector. I have experienced successes, failures, and have observed overall industry needs and voids. This is the exciting part and I wanted back in!

Share more about Seed2Source, your Sustainable Ag Business Consulting Firm focusing on controlled environment agriculture

Seed2Source launched in 2016 but was really an evolution of my first ‘Agriculture Meets Wellness’ firm which was launched in 2005. Seed2Source is a first-of-kind, Sustainable Agriculture & Wellness, consulting firm headquartered in Florida but serving the US (and beyond). The firm focuses on strategic CEA projects rooted in sustainable agricultural, food-as-medicine, and local food system models.

Our CEA experience includes Vertical Farming, Controlled Greenhouse, Aeroponic and Hydroponic Methodologies, Strategy, Branding, Distribution, Education, Innovation, and Science. We are a one-stop-shop and are surrounded by the best and the brightest in all operational units required for true success. We bring in different consultants as the projects deem fit. This allows us to take on both small and large projects as the market dictates.

At the upcoming CEA Summit, you’ll be speaking on 2 panels, including one titled “Building The Future of CEA”.  If there is one message you hope to get across on that panel discussion what is it?

The CEA industry is still at its infancy and shall evolve with continuous iterations and innovations. Typically, when most people think of CEA, they only think of High-Tech, AI, Automation, etc. and forget about the State of Agriculture in general. I hope people start to realize that CEA is ‘part’ of a solution and not the ‘only’ solution. Also, I hope that people don’t forget about the actual agriculturists and horticulturists that are the true heroes in creating a sustainable, profitable, CEA operation. This seems to be lost with many of the current players in CEA.

You’ll also be speaking at the 2023 edition of Indoor Ag-Con on a great session idea you brought to us, “Building A CEA Alliance:  The Power of Grower Partnerships.” Can you share a little more about this idea?

As it stands, there is little-to-no diversity in US CEA. Everyone is clamoring for funding, market share, and innovations in technology. I believe they are missing a huge opportunity for collaborations, strategic partnerships, and supply chain solutions. We must work together not only for larger supply chain opportunities in both retail and wholesale, but to truly exchange best business practices and the like. We should also be collaborating to keep domestic supply in our own backyard and with prominence. There is enough business to be had for all!

What’s next for you and the team at Seed2Source?  

Our vertically integrated CEA Model, of which we pride ourselves on, was clearly not an overnight success. We are still on this journey. This will continue to be the core of our mission and vision. The Vision – ‘Intersecting Agriculture with Wellness as a Food-As-Medicine Approach’ — will continue to drive our passion and expansion.

We feel strongly that this is the model for success and ultimate operational sustainability. We are being courted by some amazing operations – both new and old players in the CEA space – which has been rewarding. We will continue to build our CEA and overall Domestic Farm Partnerships and Educational Programming.

Learn more about Jennifer and her team at www.seed2source.com 

AgHires Post The Great Regret

How to Navigate Hiring During the Great Regret

Over the last couple of years, the labor market has fluctuated drastically, and every industry is feeling that rollercoaster ride, including the indoor agriculture industry. It’s tough trying to find quality candidates that are willing to make the jump to a new organization. While not too long ago it seemed as if everyone was jumping ship from their current employer, however, many contributing factors are now causing job seekers to be more cautious.

The Great Regret

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a new quit rate record was made in November and December 2021, rising to 3%, in what has been called the Great Resignation. Just like any trend, the great resignation has ended. However, now it has taken a turn. New studies show that those who have acted impulsively to quit their jobs are now regretting their decision, about 1 and 4 people who have quit their job in the last year have regrets. While over 40% of those who left for a new opportunity say their new job is not living up to their expectations.

These candidates may have learned to take their time when considering quitting their job, and now are being extra cautious. Since many candidates have just left a job, they’re not likely ready to leave another, which is going to make the talent pool smaller. They are also going to take their time finding a new job that checks all their boxes. While, hopefully, they’ve learned to consider all the possibilities when it comes to finding a new job, it does slow down the hiring process.

Bystanders of the Great Resignation

Those employees that did not participate in the Great Resignation, watched their coworkers, friends, and family quit their jobs. Many of them may have been envious but didn’t want to take the plunge. However, now they are watching them regret their decisions. This is causing these candidates to approach a new opportunity with caution. They don’t want to take a leap and regret their choice. They feel safer staying put.

Recession Concerns

The looming recession is also causing candidates to hesitate. While we may have hoped the economy would have leveled out after 2 years of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, other factors have dashed those hopes. While experts are divided on the probability, many people have concerns that a recession is in our immediate future.

With the possibility looming, candidates are not going to act impulsively. Instead, they are going to carefully weigh the risks and rewards of changing jobs. They will consider if the agribusiness or indoor farm will be a stable opportunity. Is there a possibility of layoffs, could the company close, or will they still have an income if the recession comes? Is the company culture a better fit than where they are currently employed? Is there a pay increase and is it worth the risk?

How to Hire During the Great Regret

With so much hesitation from candidates, it’s making it difficult to find quality candidates in the controlled environment agriculture industry. In today’s job market, finding candidates for your open positions feels like an uphill battle. We’re finding that job seekers are applying to roles but are taking extra caution with which role they will move forward with. So, how can you fill your current openings when everyone is afraid to move?

Train the Right Person

If it’s a struggle to find candidates willing to take the leap for a new job consider hiring outside of the industry or hiring more junior employees, and spend some extra time training. Ensuring that your training is efficient and effective will allow you to bring new hires up to speed quickly and keep your agribusiness or indoor farm competitive in the market.

Also, look within your current team and promote from within. You might already have the right person for the job with some extra training. Training is sharing knowledge and teaching employees to perform their best. It may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Look for Inherent Traits

Remember, it’s not always what is on the resume that is important. Yes, you want your employees to have the skills and know-how to do a job, but you also want a candidate that fits your company’s culture. Their resume doesn’t show you what their work ethic is like or if their personality will mesh well with your team.

Finding the right people with the right attitude can make all the difference in your hiring strategy. In ag, we want candidates that have a strong work ethic, are passionate about their work and have the energy and enthusiasm required to do the job. Other industries also attract those candidates, such as the military and construction industry. They also have skills that can easily translate into the agriculture industry.

It’s All About Your Culture

Your organization’s culture is ultimately what will attract quality candidates to your indoor farm or agribusiness. Today’s candidates want to know what it’s like to work with your team on a daily basis and if will they fit in with the environment. Filling your team with employees that have similar values, behaviors, and communication styles will help your team and indoor ag business be successful.

Showcase your culture in your job descriptions and during interviews. Don’t just tell them what it’s like to work at the organization but give them examples, so they can gauge for themselves. Use the language in your job descriptions to attract the type of candidates you want. Avoid buzzwords that have lost their meaning, like “we’re a family” or “fast-paced environment”. Instead, use real examples from your indoor farm or agribusiness to showcase your culture.  Adding something like, “Sundays off to encourage a healthy work-life balance” or “company events to encourage comradery.”  Mentioning certain benefits such as “paid paternity time off for expectant mothers and/or fathers” is a great idea to show what you’re all about.

Go beyond just the compensation and insurance benefits. Do you offer opportunities for continuous learning? Do you have a rewards program or offer bonuses? Do you go beyond the industry standard with any of your benefits? Do you offer any flexibility in the off-season? Any range of benefits showcases how an organization treats its employees.

Conclusion

It’s a challenging time to hire agricultural candidates with so many factors for them to consider. While it can be challenging, there are ways to work through the obstacles and find quality employees to fill your team. It will take more work to publicize your job openings and reach out to candidates to attract them to your indoor farm or agribusiness.

Hiring can be tough, but AgHires is here to help you attract and find THE hire for your vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture organization. We are an industry-leading ag recruitment agency and job advertising company. We have an extensive network to help with everything from job advertising to full-service recruiting for your ag professional level and executive level positions. Contact us today to get started showcasing your indoor ag business.

Lori Culler AgHiresSpecial thanks to Lori Culler for this post.

Indoor Ag-Con 2023 speaker Lori (Lennard) Culler is the founder of AgHires, an online job board and recruiting firm dedicated to the Agriculture, Horticulture, and Food Production industry. AgHires offers job advertising, candidate sourcing, and full-service recruitment solutions for farms and agribusinesses across the U.S. and Canada.   Lori grew up on her family’s 3rd generation potato, tomato, and grain farm operating today across four states. After graduating from the University of Toledo with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, she began working in human resources in both recruiting and management consulting. While hiring for her family’s operation, she quickly realized the lack of resources in the industry to find and attract talent which inspired her to launch AgHires.