Skip to main content

Tag: indoor farming

10 Things To See and Do at Indoor Ag-Con 2024

Explore Expanded Expo Hall with 200 Exhibitors, Be Inspired by Three Compelling Keynotes, Sit in on Educational Conference Sessions including NEW Cannabis Track, Networking Events

Indoor Ag-Con, the largest and leading trade show and conference dedicated to vertical farming | greenhouse | controlled environment agriculture, will return to Caesars Forum March 11-12, 2024 for its 11th annual event. This must-attend Conference and Trade Show brings together farmers, growers, ag tech leaders, suppliers, advocates and enthusiasts under one roof to experience all that Indoor Ag-Con has to offer: 200+ Exhibitors, Three Keynotes, Networking Events, Conference Sessions and more.

  1. See, Touch and Experience 200+ Exhibitors & Sponsors

In 2024, the Expo Hall has expanded featuring 200+ world-class exhibitors and sponsors featuring the most cutting-edge technologies, products and services in the indoor agriculture industry from lighting and control systems to substrates, equipment, irrigation systems and much more. Key Exhibitors including, Enza Zaden, Babylon Micro-Farms, Berger, Bio 520, ,Klasmann-Dielmann, Nourse, Philips, PowerSecure, Promix, SananBio, Van Der Hoeven and Voltserver Digital Electricity and many more.

  1. Keynotes Take the Stage

Each year, Indoor Ag-Con features three awe-inspiring Keynotes and this year’s all-star speakers include Paul Sellew, Founder and CEO of Little Leaf Farms, who will give  the 2024 edition’s opening morning headline keynote address on Monday, March 11th at 8am. Little Leaf Farms is the largest U.S. greenhouse producer of hydroponic baby greens and sold in over 5,000 grocery stores and fine dining establishments.

A mid-morning keynote on day one, “Leader Insights: Charting the Future Landscape of Controlled Environment Agriculture”, will be led by industry veterans on Monday, March 11 at 11am. The keynote will feature Moderator, Daniel Malech, Board Chair, SVP CEA Alliance for Plenty, Jim DiMenna, President of Red Sun Farms, Viraj Puri, Co-Founder and CEO of Gotham Greens, and Matt Ryan, CEO of Soli Organic.

Adam Bergman, Managing Director, Clean Energy Transition Group, Global Head of AgTech for Citi, will deliver the day two morning keynote address on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 8am. Bergman’s presentation, “Indoor Farming: The Next Revolution in Agriculture,” will explore the dynamic landscape of indoor farming, addressing the setbacks faced in 2023 and unveiling the promising future that lies ahead.

  1.  Robust Conference Featuring Four In-Depth Tracks

The Conference features two jam-packed days of educational and insightful sessions from 80+ speakers in four tracks including Planning & Operations, Grower, Cultivating Possibilities and NEW this year, the Cannabis track.

For a full list of Conference sessions, visit https://indoor.ag/conference-program/

  1. Safety-First: Food Safety Pre-Event Workshop

New for 2024, the Indoor Ag-Con CEA Food Safety Pre-Event Workshop: Internal Review Certification, will be held on Sunday, March 10, 1-5pm and is designed for anyone in the controlled environment agriculture industry dedicated to ensuring the highest standards of food safety and quality. Internal auditing certification is a mandatory GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) requirement that demonstrates an individual’s ability to conduct internal assessments of any food safety program.  Indoor Ag-Con has partnered with Ceres University, a leading provider of IACET-accredited food safety training and certification, to offer a cost-effective, convenient way to build your career AND help fulfill GFSI scheme requirements.

5. Two Shows in One

Indoor Ag-Con will once again co-locate with the National Grocers Association Show March 11-12, 2024 at Caesars Forum, Las Vegas The NGA Show, the leading trade show and conference for independent grocers, and Indoor Ag-Con, the premier agriculture conference and trade show for the indoor and vertical farming industry, will once again co-locate in 2024.6. Let’s Get Social

Mix and mingle with new and old friends at daily events including Conference Lunches, Expo Hall Happy Hour, and many more fun and engaging events.

  1. Vivid Canopy Interactive Panel, Roundtable & Networking Event

This networking event for the controlled environment agriculture community will foster and celebrate diversity in the industry. Growers, engineers, and business leaders across the indoor farming industry at all levels of organizations need more opportunities to connect in this increasingly remote world. The Vivid Canopy interactive workshop hosted by GLASE features a panel of diverse professionals from sectors of the CEA community led by Women in CEA followed by a networking round robin activity led by Eden Green Technology and Re-Nuble.

8 What’s New: Be The First to Experience Product Debuts

Indoor Ag-Con is the place to check out the latest products, services and technologies in the industry. Must see debuts include: NGS’ patented rotational system for strawberries which doubles normal tabletop production, Pure Life Carbon’s first re-usable, carbon sequestering, soilless growing medium for the controlled environment agriculture market, Royal Gold’s new All-purpose fertilizer and new 70/30 Coco-Perlite Blend, FG41S’s Modular Flat-Pack Buildings shipped factory-direct to Customer and Klasmann-Deilmann’s genuine innovation for modern horticulture: Nygaia which will be handed out in test kits.

  1. Take a Seat in the Expo Hall Theater for Mini Sessions

While browsing 200+ exhibitors, stop by the ever-popular Expo Theater where industry leaders take the stage for 45-minute presentations addressing hot topics in the industry.  From “Sowing Innovation: Virginia’s Vision for Controlled Environment Agriculture” featuring a Fireside chat with Matthew Lohr, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Office of the Governor of Virginia to “USDA’s Growing Vision for Controlled Environment Agriculture” featuring a distinguished panel featuring United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) representatives, the Expo Hall will be buzzing.

  1. Viva Las Vegas

Indoor Ag-Con will once again call Las Vegas home for the 2024 event and there is no shortage of things to do, see and hear in Sin City. From the Sphere Experience to Carrie Underwood’s residency to America’s Got Talent Superstar Live, take some time to explore Las Vegas while at Indoor Ag-Con.

For more information, please visit www.indoor.ag.

Nourse Farms Continues to Lead the North American Berry Propagation Industry, Adopting New Tissue Culture Production Technology

John Place Nourse Farms
John Place, Nourse Farms CEO

For over 90 years, Nourse Farms (Indoor Ag-Con 2024 Booth 317) has remained steadfast in its commitment to providing growers with high-quality, virus-indexed, highly productive plants grown using the best possible practices. This commitment drives Nourse Farms to stay on the cutting edge of the latest developments in the industry.

To amplify Nourse Farms’ commitment to innovation, the North American berry plant propagator is embarking on an exciting journey in 2024. Later this year, Nourse Farms will open the 15-acre North Carolina greenhouse it acquired last year. Additionally, Nourse Farms expects to open a modern tissue culture lab and a seven-acre greenhouse for foundation material in Massachusetts.

Nourse Farms expects to open a modern tissue culture lab and a seven-acre greenhouse for foundation material in Massachusetts later this year.
Nourse Farms expects to open a modern tissue culture lab and a seven-acre greenhouse for foundation material in Massachusetts later this year.

Striving for a new era of excellence in tissue culture production, Nourse Farms’ modern tissue culture lab will include automated tissue culture planters developed and manufactured by Viscon, in close collaboration with ISO Group. The automated tissue culture planters are a tremendous breakthrough for growers, redefining and elevating production while operating in a sterile environment, resulting in increased quality products.

“Tissue culture has been the cornerstone of what we do for decades, so strategic investments in technology and advancements in this part of our operation are not only ideal but necessary,” said Nourse Farms CEO John Place. “With the exciting addition of Viscon’s automated tissue culture planters to our operation, we expect that we will see a significant increase in our production and efficiency.”

This innovative system meticulously transplants individual plants at a predetermined position and depth in the agar, ensuring higher explant quality and improved growth uniformity. The planter includes advanced gripper technology that prioritizes precision and certifies minimal physical plant damage. The automated planter features in-place tool sterilization and automatically sterilizes between transplant batches. Safeguarding sterility reduces the contamination risk seen in manual plant handling.

Nourse Farms’ modern tissue culture lab will include automated tissue culture planters developed and manufactured by Viscon, in close collaboration with ISO Group.
Nourse Farms’ modern tissue culture lab will include automated tissue culture planters developed and manufactured by Viscon, in close collaboration with ISO Group.

By adopting Viscon’s technology, Nourse Farms expects operational efficiency and control to strengthen due to enhanced traceability software that will capture data to help inform process decisions. The software uses barcoding technology that automatically tracks and traces plants in cups. This operation will allow Nourse Farms to monitor and accurately trace plants to the original plant material. By capturing this data, the growers can make informed plant production decisions based on production numbers, multiplication rates, material losses, and location status.

By utilizing this system, Nourse Farms’ skilled lab technicians can focus on preparing and cutting the plants for transplanting.

“This is a transformative time for growers and Nourse Farms is passionate about being at the forefront of implementing modern growing practices,” said Place. “We might be over 90 years old, but we’ve only just begun. We are proud to continue leading the North American berry propagation industry and look forward to what will come out of our new modern tissue culture lab.”

About Nourse Farms

For over 90 years, Nourse Farms has produced and sold premium quality small fruit plants to national and international commercial fruit growers, home gardeners, and resellers. Nourse Farms’ commitment to providing customers with virus-indexed, highly productive plants drives the organization to stay on the cutting edge of the latest developments in the industry. By identifying and testing new varieties and growing techniques, Nourse Farms stands behind its promise to deliver quality. What was once a strawberry nursery serving local growers has grown to be an internationally recognized soft fruit nursery selling strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry plants. For more information about Nourse Farms, visit NourseFarms.com.

Industry Leaders From Gotham Greens, Plenty, Red Sun Farms, Soli Organic Join Keynote Line-Up For Indoor Ag-Con Las Vegas 2024

Top Execs Share Insights on  Future Landscape of Controlled Environment Agriculture

Indoor Ag-Con is excited to announce its third keynote address, “Leader Insights: Charting the Future Landscape of Controlled Environment Agriculture,” led by industry veterans on Monday, March 11 at 11am. The keynote will feature Moderator, Daniel Malech, Board Chair of the CEA Alliance and SVP, Plenty, Jim DiMenna, President of Red Sun Farms, Viraj Puri, Co-Founder and CEO of Gotham Greens, and Matt Ryan, CEO of Soli Organic.

In this compelling keynote presentation, attendees will discover the foresight from industry leaders as they share their predictions, strategies, and unique perspectives on the emerging trends that will shape the landscape of controlled environment agriculture. Attendees will gain valuable insights to stay ahead in this dynamic field and be part of the conversation that is charting the course for the future of sustainable and innovative food production.

This panel joins the Indoor Ag-Con 2024 headliner keynote line-up, which also includes the opening morning kick-off session with Paul Sellew, CEO, Little Leaf Farms and the day two morning keynote from Adam Bergman, Global Head of Agtech for Citi. These all-star leaders and keynotes will engage and inspire attendees.

“We are excited to bring this panel of CEA industry leaders to our keynote stage to offer insider tips and predictions shaped by real world experience. The keynote will provide key takeaways about the future of indoor agriculture, as it holds tremendous promise as a sustainable solution to the challenges posed by traditional farming methods,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con.

In addition to Indoor Ag-Con’s Keynotes, the event will feature educational panels, sessions and other presentation formats aligned in several Conference tracks.  Attendees will also enjoy quality networking events and explore an expanded expo floor bringing together 200+ suppliers and service providers representing the top names and emerging leaders in the controlled environment agriculture sector. For more information on the full line-up of sessions, exhibitors and events, please visit www.indoor.ag.

Daniel Malech, Board Chair, CEA Alliance & SVP, Plenty

Dan chairs the Board of Directors of indoor agriculture trade association the CEA Alliance, with a focus on developing category-wide metrics and guidelines as well as policy advocacy.  Dan is also the SVP of Strategy & General Counsel at Plenty, where he oversees corporate strategy, legal, compliance, government affairs and sustainability. His work helps drive scale for the indoor vertical farming company, including structuring and closing on multiple industry-leading strategic partnerships and financing rounds.

Jim DiMenna, Red Sun Farms

Jim DiMenna is the President of Red Sun Farms, one of the largest vertically integrated high-tech greenhouse vegetable growers with ownership of each stage of the process; seed selection, to plant growth, to harvesting, packaging and distribution. Red Sun Farms has over 800 acres throughout Mexico, USA and Canada. Born and raised in Leamington Ontario, the produce business has always been a part of Jim’s  life. As a teen, he worked his way up from the packing room into sales and marketing before starting his own firm J-D Marketing in 1990. In 2001, Jim formed JEMD International along with Golden Jem Farms, to meet the industry call for better direct-line connections between the retailers, distributors and growers. In 2008, Jem D International merged with Agricola El Rosal, and was rebranded as Red Sun Farms.

Viraj Puri, Gotham Greens

Viraj Puri co-founded Gotham Greens, a pioneer in indoor agriculture and a leading fresh food company. A Certified B Corporation™, Gotham Greens farms with the future in mind, delivering long-lasting and delicious leafy greens, herbs, salad kits, salad dressings, dips and cooking sauces all year round to retail, restaurant and foodservice customers. Over the past decade under Viraj’s leadership, Gotham Greens has grown to be one of the largest and most commercially successful indoor farming companies in the world with more than 500 employees and 13 high-tech greenhouse facilities across nine U.S. states. Prior to Gotham Greens, Viraj led start-up enterprises in the United States, India and Malawi focused on sustainable agriculture, green building, renewable energy and environmental design.

Matt Ryan, CEO, Soli Organic

As CEO, Matt Ryan’s focus is on strengthening the company’s competitive advantages and achieving scaled topline growth. Prior to his role at Soli Organic, Ryan served as the chief marketing officer and chief strategy officer at Starbucks where he developed and executed marketing and strategy plans, managed the food and beverage portfolio and led all other marketing, product, brand, and consumer functions. As the head of brand management for The Walt Disney Company, he oversaw the company’s brand management, brand development, franchise management, customer data, and CRM. Ryan currently sits on the Board of Directors for Kaiser Permanente. He received a Bachelor of Arts in history from Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude.

About Indoor Ag-Con

Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the largest trade show and conference for vertical farming | greenhouse |controlled environment agriculture. 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, visit www.indoor.ag.

Klasmann-Deilmann: The Magic of Innovation

Klasmann-Deilmann will showcase its latest introductions in booth 812 during the March 11-12, 2024 edition of Indoor Ag-Con. The focus will be on the presentation of a genuine innovation for modern horticulture: Nygaia. Nygaia is a substrate based on biopolymer technology that is biodegradable and is particularly suitable for use in hydroponic systems.

Under the theme “The magic of innovation,” the completely newly developed product will be presented to a wide audience. In addition to theoretical information – which will be communicated at the trade fair booth – the product will also be brought to life for trade fair visitors on site.

Be it with test kits, which will be distributed to interested guests at the booth. Or with the appearance of Rob Anderson. The magician has been seen on Good Morning America, Today, and Comedy Central performing his impressive feats of sleight-of-hand and mind-reading. Rob will be making an appearance during Ag-Con exclusively at the Klasmann-Deilmann booth and during the welcome cocktail reception on the expo floor.

And when even the President of MTV Networks says about Rob ” … I know how rare it is to come upon a talent like him.”, this live event is definitely not to be missed. The special performance is scheduled for March 11 , 2024 from 5:15 to 5:45 pm in the Expo Theater on the show floor during the opening day cocktail reception.

About Nygaia 

Nygaia is the substrate solution of the future that will soon be able to completely replace conventional substrates, e.g. in the cultivation of leafy vegetables in hydroponics and vertical cultivation systems. The innovative substrate fibre consists of 60% natural, bio-based raw materials and is completely biodegradable.

 

This means it produces neither waste nor microplastics. The Nygaia substrate fibre for hydroponics is inert, salt-free and provides a perfect water retention capacity. It also offers very good air capacity, which optimally supports healthy root growth of plants. Nygaia is a product development of the close collaboration of Klasmann-Deilmann and Maan Biobased Products.

Innovation in plant propagation: The GROWCOON

In addition to Nygaia, Klasmann-Deilmann will also showcase Growcoon, a fully biodegradable propagation plug based on polymer technology with a stable but flexible open net structure. It forms a stable root ball when used in combination with a high-quality seedling substrate. Therefore, Growcoon is the optimal system for all types of propagation methods such as sowing, rooting of cuttings, grafting but proves to be particularly effective in vertical farming and hydroponic systems.
The Growcoon is available in many different standard sizes and suitable for all common tray sizes and can be used in all established propagation systems and with different trays and any loose fill substrate. Moreover, Growcoon is a solution for pot-free cultivation, which can significantly reduce the use of plastic. For this, Growcoon is also available in larger dimensions and suitable for growing bedding plants, perennials, or pot herbs in small pots. Growcoon is a product developed within the close collaboration of Klasmann-Deilmann and Maan Biobased Products.

About Klasmann-Deilmann

Klasmann-Deilmann is the leading corporate group in the international substrate industry, with numerous sales and production companies in Europe, Asia and America, and a network of sales and production partners on every continent. Our growing media provide worldwide a vital basis for the growth of soft fruit, vegetables, edible mushrooms, herbs, ornamental plants, trees and shrubs. They help ensure the success of our partners and customers in the commercial horticulture sector and are an integral part of the food sector value chain.

The strategic focus of our company, a medium-sized family business, is extremely forward-looking. Keen to remain the most successful and sustainable producer of growing media, we are single-mindedly building on the lead we have in the development and use of renewable resources, ground-breaking substrate blends and innovative solutions for commercial horticulture. Our ADVANCED substrates as well as Growcoon, Nygaia and the Growbag ADVANCED are the latest examples of our sustainable, innovative growing solutions.

Learn more about Klassmann-Deilmann.

 

Little Leaf Farms CEO: Navigating Sustainable Growth and Fresh Innovations

Join us for this month’s Q&A with Paul Sellew, the forward-thinking Founder & CEO of Little Leaf Farms, the largest U.S. greenhouse producer of hydroponic baby greens.   As the opening morning keynote speaker for the March 11-12, 2024 edition of Indoor Ag-Con, Paul sheds light on the challenges and opportunities of expanding Little Leaf Farms’ footprint, the eco-friendly practices that set it apart, and the company’s commitment to a farmer-first mindset.  From becoming the top-selling lettuce in New England to doubling production capacity with the recent expansion into McAdoo, PA, Sellew gives a glimpse into the company’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and its exciting plans for the future.

Given Little Leaf Farms’ recent milestone of becoming the #1 best-selling packaged lettuce in New England and the opening of a new greenhouse in McAdoo, PA, what challenges and opportunities do you foresee in expanding your footprint to new regions – and how does this contribute to your goal of reaching 100 acres under glass by 2026?
Little Leaf Farms.Packaging

When we opened our first greenhouse, we set out to build a more resilient food system and have pioneered a peri-urban approach in controlled environment agriculture. This means that our greenhouses are built in the surrounding regions of major urban centers to minimize the amount our leafy greens have to travel to reach the consumer, resulting in a lettuce that lasts longer and tastes better. We know this is the right model to enable us to bring our leafy greens to markets all over the country and are confident that once consumers in those new markets try our lettuce, they’ll never go back.

Little Leaf emphasizes sustainability. Can you highlight specific environmental practices that set the company apart and resonate with consumers?

Little Leaf Farms Indoor Ag-ContentEvery step of our growing process was designed to limit our impact on the planet. For example, we utilize captured rainwater in our soil-less farming, which results in 90% less water usage than field-grown greens. Plus our greenhouse locations are in regions with high natural precipitation and not dependent on groundwater as the west coast growers do.  . Our Devens, MA greenhouse gets 45 inches of rain per year alone and we use all of it, whereas Salinas, California sees only 10 inches of rain per year.

Our greenhouses are also built to maximize the free power of the sun, enabling us to grow our leafy greens with natural sunlight and solar-powered energy. We’re also using space much more efficiently and have 30 times more yield than conventional farms. In fact, 10 acres of our indoor greenhouse replaces 300 acres in a traditional farm. Our packages are just as important to our process, which is why they’re made from 100% post-consumer PET, which makes them infinitely recyclable and provides a much longer shelf life, too.

In a competitive market environment, what sets Little Leaf Farms apart, and how do you plan to maintain your leadership position as you expand to new markets?

Little Leaf Farms.ProcessWe have always approached growing lettuce as a farming company, rather than a tech company. While we are technologists and our technology is cutting-edge, our priority is growing sustainable, local lettuce that most importantly, tastes great. Our lettuce arrives on grocery store shelves within 24 hours of harvesting, spending less time traveling than most other lettuces. This, in addition to our highly automated system and sustainable growing practices, results in fresh, flavorful leafy greens that remain crispy a remarkably long time after purchase. At the end of the day, we’re growing food. People want to buy and eat what tastes good, and our amazing taste is what’s going to continue to be the differentiator for us.  We’ve also grown our business in a way that gives us the ability to scale profitably and better service our retailers, which is going to continue to put us in a position to challenge and compete with field-grown brands as we enter new markets. We’ve surpassed field-grown greens in New England and I’m confident we can replicate that success in other markets across the country as we grow.

In discussing the company’s success, you’ve mentioned maintaining a “farming company” mindset rather than a “tech play” approach.  Can you elaborate on how this mindset influences decision-making, innovation, and the overall character of Little Leaf, especially considering the evolving landscape of technology in agriculture?

Little Leaf Farms. PAOur business is about farming, and we consider farming a people-based business that puts the crop first. This mindset enables us to recruit the best team of growers, R&D staff, operations staff, and more to carry out our mission of growing fresh leafy greens for all. The farmer-first mindset also reinforces our commitment to growing a product that tastes great and that people actually want to eat, which ties directly to our mission of bringing fresh, leafy greens for all.

What’s next for Little Leaf Farms?

Our current focus is on getting our leafy greens to as many consumers as possible. Our recent expansion into McAdoo, PA has not only doubled our production capacity but has increased our retail presence to nearly 5,000 stores, expanding our footprint to include retailers in the Midwest and Southeast.

Little Leaf Farms.PA 2We’ve also expanded our product line to now offer salad kits made with our signature Baby Crispy Green Leaf lettuce, which had an initial launch in the Northeast this fall but will be expanding to our full distribution footprint in January 2024.

Learn more about Little Leaf Farms by visiting the website.  And, make plans now to join us for Indoor Ag-Con 2024 to hear Paul’s opening morning keynote address at 8 am on Monday, March 11, 2024!

AGEYE Technologies Collaborates With 2 Universities On Revolutionary Sensor Technology for Indoor Agriculture

AGEYE Technologies (AGEYE), in partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California Berkeley, has  announced collaboration on an innovative project titled “Novel Sensors for Efficient and Scalable Production of Indoor Crops.” This initiative is set to redefine the future of agriculture by introducing a game-changing sensor technology that promises to enhance crop quality, yield, and sustainability.

The commercial potential of this National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Partnerships for Innovation – Research Partnerships (PFI-RP) project is monumental. It aims to drastically reduce waste and energy consumption in agriculture while ensuring superior crop quality. The pioneering sensor technology, developed using print-based manufacturing approaches, will seamlessly integrate nutrient, temperature, and pH sensors. These advanced sensors are designed to detect individual nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, providing a granular view of the growing media’s health. This level of precision will pave the way for heightened automation in both outdoor and indoor agricultural operations, ensuring that crops receive the exact nutrients they need to thrive.

“Our vision is to revolutionize the way we understand and interact with crop systems. This technology will empower growers with real-time, accurate data, enabling them to make informed decisions about fertilizer and water management,” said Brian Hannon, Head Corporate Grower at AGEYE.

Dr. Gregory Whiting, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, added, “This collaboration is a testament to the power of interdisciplinary partnerships. By merging the expertise of academia and industry, we’re poised to bring forth a technology that could reshape the agricultural landscape. We’re proud to be working with AGEYE on this transformative journey.”

This project addresses a crucial gap in the agricultural sector: the need for efficient and reliable data acquisition. By leveraging this state-of-the-art sensor technology, the initiative aims to eliminate the constraints of manual data collection, thus reducing human error and optimizing operations. The research objectives encompass the comprehensive design, development, manufacturing, and validation of nitrogen/phosphorous/potassium (NPK) and electrical conductivity, pH, temperature (EC/pH/T) sensors.

The collaboration with an industry partner specializing in agriculture ensures that the developed technology is primed for commercial operations, adaptable to diverse environmental conditions, and suitable for various agricultural scenarios. Preliminary experimentation and validation have already showcased the immense capabilities of these sensors, from enhanced data accuracy to continuous in-situ monitoring and improved maintenance procedures.

As we move forward, this project serves as a testament to the rising prominence of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in the global agricultural landscape. No longer a niche or experimental approach, CEA is solidifying its position as an indispensable and viable pillar of modern agriculture, ensuring food security, sustainability, and economic growth for generations to come.

More information on AGEYE can be found at https://ageyetech.com/

Gotham Greens Expands Into the Southeast With Georgia Greenhouse Opening

NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Gotham Greens, a Certified B Corporation™ and one of the fastest growing indoor farming brands, today announced the opening of its first high-tech hydroponic greenhouse in the Southeast region and the company’s twelfth greenhouse nationwide. The 210,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in Monroe, Ga., located between Atlanta and Athens, Ga., is the company’s second of three new greenhouses opening in 2023. The greenhouse will provide a year-round supply of Georgia Grown, fresh produce to retail, restaurant, and foodservice customers throughout the region, including Whole Foods Market, Publix, Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market, and more. This includes new offerings, such as the regionally-inspired Coastal Crunch lettuce and family size packs of the best-selling Butterhead and Gourmet Spring Mix.

“As we celebrate National Farmer’s Day, this expansion into the South is a pivotal moment for Gotham Greens and brings us one step closer to our goal of being able to deliver Gotham Greens fresh produce within a day’s drive from our greenhouses to 90% of consumers across the U.S.” said Viraj Puri, Co-Founder and CEO of Gotham Greens. “Our new Georgia greenhouse is the largest, most technologically advanced we’ve ever built and uses enhanced automation, climate control and data science capabilities to ensure that our greens are not only delicious, but also consistent and reliable for our customers.”

The greenhouse boasts sophisticated new technology to overcome the region’s hot, humid climate and ensure all leafy greens and herbs meet the standard consumers nationwide have come to associate with and expect from the brand. In contrast to traditional open-field farming methods, Gotham Greens farms use up to 90% less water and 97% less land compared to conventional farming methods and provide a consistent and proven way of growing food closer to where people live. While field crops are especially vulnerable to the elements such as heavy rains or drought, the fully closed greenhouse system provides protection and reliability for customers.

“Gotham Greens’ new, state-of-the-art greenhouse facility in Monroe will deploy the latest, cutting-edge agricultural technology, while creating almost 100 jobs in Walton County and providing consumers across Georgia with sustainable, Georgia Grown produce year-round,” said Tyler Harper, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. “Gotham Greens and the Georgia Grown brand are rooted in the shared values of quality, integrity, and innovation, and we’re proud to welcome them to the great state of Georgia.”

Agriculture is Georgia’s oldest and leading industry, contributing $70 billion to the state’s economy. With increasing high impact weather events, it is essential for the region to embrace new, innovative farming methods and products.

In Georgia, one in nine people face hunger, including one in eight children. Gotham Greens will work with local non-profit partners to help address food insecurity and provide seedlings for community gardens and educational purposes. In 2022, the company donated more than 44,000 pounds of food to families in need and provided more than 27,000 seedling donations for community gardens and educational purposes.

For more information on Gotham Greens, its greenhouses and its products, please visit gothamgreens.com.

ABOUT GOTHAM GREENS
Gotham Greens is an indoor farming company and a fresh food brand on a mission to transform the way we approach our food system, putting people and the planet at the forefront. Gotham Greens produces and delivers long-lasting and delicious leafy greens, herbs, salad dressings, dips, and cooking sauces all year round to retail, restaurant, and foodservice customers. A Certified B Corporation™, Gotham Greens sustainably grows high-quality produce using up to 90% less water and 97% less land than conventional farming through its national network of climate-controlled, high-tech greenhouses across America, including locations in New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, California, Georgia and Texas. Since its launch in 2011, Gotham Greens has grown from a single urban rooftop greenhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., to one of the largest hydroponic leafy green producers in North America. Gotham Greens products are available in more than 6,500 locations nationwide, including Whole Foods Market, The Kroger Co., Sprouts Farmers Market, Albertsons, Target, The Fresh Market, FreshDirect, AmazonFresh and more. For more information, visit gothamgreens.com.

AeroFarms President and CFO Guy Blanchard To Lead Keynote at 2023 CEA Summit East

DANVILLE, VA (August 29, 2023)AeroFarms President and Chief Financial Officer Guy Blanchard will lead a keynote address at the 2nd annual edition of the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Summit East, Sept. 19-20, 2023, at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) Institute Conference Center in Danville, Va. Blanchard’s keynote will shed light on AeroFarms’ journey towards resiliency, emphasizing the conference’s core mission to unite the CEA business and academic sectors, fostering learning, networking, and collective growth in the face of industry challenges.

Guy Blanchard’s keynote is scheduled for Wednesday, September 20, 2023, at 9 a.m.

The CEA Summit East is co-hosted by Indoor Ag-Con, the largest vertical farming | CEA gathering, and the CEA Innovation Center – a partnership between IALR and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

During his keynote, Blanchard will share how AeroFarms is emerging stronger in the months following a Chapter 11 filing, touching on growing retail partnerships with leaders like Walmart, H-E-B, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh, and other initiatives.  He will also provide updates on AeroFarms’ newest farm in Danville, which continues to scale according to plan.

Blanchard brings extensive project finance and corporate development experience for AeroFarms, a leading clean-technology company that builds and operates commercial state-of-the-art indoor vertical farms around the world, helping transform agriculture. A Certified B Corporation, AeroFarms has been recognized by Fast Company as one of the Most Innovative Companies in the World and by Inc. as one of the Top 25 Disruptive Companies. Guy last served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, at Amonix, Inc., a concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems equipment manufacturer and developer.

Guy has also served as a Managing Director for Fortress Investment Group’s Drawbridge family of funds, where he was a principal investor with a focus on structured investments in long-lived assets. Prior to that, Guy was Vice President of Corporate Finance at GATX Capital Corporation and CFO for JTP Manufacturing. Guy holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA, both from the University of California, Davis.

“We are excited to welcome Guy Blanchard to our CEA Summit keynote stage. AeroFarms has been a trailblazer in the indoor farming industry, and his address will undoubtedly provide invaluable insights into the path forward for the indoor farming sector as it confronts new challenges, and new opportunities, head-on,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con.

“Having Guy Blanchard share his perspective on AeroFarms’ journey through recent challenges aligns perfectly with our mission to foster collaboration and innovation within the CEA community,” adds Dr. Scott Lowman, Co-Director of the CEA Innovation Center, and Vice President of Applied Research at IALR.

The CEA Summit East is custom-tailored for new and well-seasoned CEA industry members from throughout the Eastern U.S., including indoor and greenhouse growers, facility owners and operators, educators, government officials, real estate developers, architects, construction specialists, sales and marketing teams and others.

During the two-day event, industry members will have the opportunity to hear from CEOs, researchers, and experts leading keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions; explore tabletop exhibits presenting the latest CEA innovations and services; and enjoy a host of networking opportunities ranging from meals and coffee breaks to an evening social event.

QUICK FACTS:
WHEN:                 Tuesday, September 19 – Wednesday, September 20, 2023
WHERE:              
IALR Institute Conference Center, 150 Slayton Ave, Danville, VA 24540
INFO:                    For information on exhibiting or attending visit www.ceasummit.com 

ABOUT AEROFARMS
Since 2004, AeroFarms has been leading the way for indoor vertical farming and championing transformational innovation for agriculture. AeroFarms is a Certified B Corporation. Named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company two years in a row and one of TIME’s Best Inventions in Food, AeroFarms patented, award-winning indoor vertical farming technology provides the optimal conditions for healthy plants to thrive, taking agriculture to a new level of precision, food safety, and productivity while using up to 95% less water and no pesticides versus traditional field farming. Its products can be found at major selling partners like Ahold Delhaize, Amazon Fresh, Baldor Specialty Food, Compass Group, Harris Teeter, H-E-B, Marcus BP, Momofuku Noodle Bars, ShopRite, The Fresh Market, Walmart, and Whole Foods Market. For additional information, visit: https://aerofarms.com/.  

 

 ABOUT INDOOR AG-CON
Indoor Ag-Con is the premier global event series focused on the future of indoor farming. Since 2013, the trade show and conference, the industry’s largest, has been at the forefront of the rapidly expanding vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture sector, providing a platform for industry leaders, innovators, and researchers to connect, share knowledge, and drive the industry forward. More information- www.indoor.ag 

 

ABOUT THE VIRGINIA TECH-IALR CEA INNOVATION CENTER
The Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center is a joint project between IALR and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center. By developing strategic partnerships with both industry and academia, the goal of the Innovation Center is to conduct research and educational programming to develop, promote and advance the CEA sector in the U.S. and internationally. More information-www.ialr.org/cea

Bridging The Gap Between Genetics and Indoor Growing Needs: Sakata Seed Cultivates CEA Success

Q&A With Tracy Lee Zogby, Head of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Department, Sakata Seed America

Sakata Seed Indoor Ag-ConHarnessing the power of existing genetics and strategic collaborations, Sakata Seed is providing quality seeds, exceptional service, and robust support to meet the diverse needs and demands of the rapidly expanding controlled environment agriculture (CEA) market.  We had the chance to catch up with Tracy Lee Zogby, CEA Lead, Sakata Seed America, to learn more about the company’s goals and objectives for its CEA department. We talk about some of Sakata’s outstanding varieties, the challenges and opportunities that CEA presents, upcoming advancements and innovations in seed development for indoor growers and more.

Sakata SeedTell us about the main goals and objectives of Sakata Seed’s CEA division?  How does it support the needs and demands of greenhouse grower, vertical farm operators  and other indoor growers in the sector?

In 2019, Sakata Seed America began to pivot focus to an array of existing genetics that show exceptional promise in the CEA market.  We quickly noticed the synergy between the emerging and exponentially growing CEA market and our existing crop business groups. Currently, we are partnering with key market growers to extensively trial existing worldwide Sakata genetics that showed promise for indoor and CEA environments. Through strategic collaborations, exceptional genetics, and continued breeding efforts, coupled with expansion and investment in our Research & Development team, we feel well-equipped to grow our CEA partnerships and supply quality seed in strong supply to the category, backed by excellent service and support.

Last year, to further support the needs of the indoor grower, we launched SakataCEA.com – a full-scale, online resource cataloging of all that Sakata’s CEA program has to offer. It features the entire CEA product portfolio, downloadable literature materials and tools for cultivation success, a digital sample ordering form and trialing information, a fully responsive seed distributor map, and a staff directory for easy access to product support.

 

Could you provide a couple of examples of Sakata Seed’s varieties that have shown exceptional performance in indoor growing environments, and what attributes make them well-suited for CEA?

Growers have found success with several of our varieties across varied technologies. A few standouts include Mizuna Mustard Miz America, Kale Blue Ridge, and Pak Choi Joi Choi. Miz America, for example, displays an unparalleled intense color and mild flavor that makes it an ideal component in salad blends. Kale Blue Ridge has shown exceptional yields and uniformity as well as a desirable leaf texture and color. Pak Choi Joi Choi, when grown to a baby leaf stage, is flavorful, attractive, and high yielding, in addition to showing notably high post-harvest quality.

 

Sakata SeedShare some insights into the unique challenges and opportunities that CEA presents for seed development and production, compared to traditional outdoor farming?

Although grouped under the single broad category of ‘CEA’, indoor growers are extremely diverse in their crop needs, growing conditions, facility types and technology. I would say one of the biggest challenges in seed development is deciding exactly which traits to breed for. Success with one type of grower or technology does not translate into success with all CEA growers, even within the same facility type. We must be able to develop genetics that fulfill the broader common traits needed across the largest number of growers and then depend on growers to manipulate their different technologies and growing methods to control more individual needs within this broader framework.

However, one of the most potentially exciting opportunities that I see in developing future varieties is the ability to focus more of our breeding on consumer-driven traits such as flavor or nutrition over chasing some of the disease resistance needs for outdoor farming.

For seed production, the biggest challenge is clarity around the entire process.  Producing seed is a time intensive process, anywhere from 1 to 2 years from stock seed increases through to cleaning and testing the final crop. Having transparency in understanding the CEA growers’ seed needs in advance, both in timing and quantities, is crucial to planning and providing consistent supplies.

 

Sakata SeedHow do you identify and prioritize the traits and characteristics that are more important for indoor growers — are you able to collaborate with  growers  to gather feedback and insights?

At times it can be challenging to collect meaningful outside trial data to track our progress toward goals. I would like to see increased direct input from growers and eventually see some uniformity in growing systems and clearer overarching breeding goals.  We have seen the greatest successes and fastest progress when we are able to develop a trusting, open, mutually beneficial trialing collaboration with growers.

 

Sakata SeedCan you highlight any recent advancements or innovations in seed development within your CEA division?  What varieties or technologies can growers anticipate from Sakata Seed in the near future.

Lettuce, arugula, beet greens, mustard, and pack choi are a few of the crops on which we are gathering data and breeding,  both allowing for crossover commercial products to be used now and for key trait identification for next-generation breeding projects in the pipeline. Our breeders are analyzing traits that will allow for optimum yield, advantageous plant architecture, and noteworthy flavor and texture while displaying a spectrum of colors and textures for consumer interest.

Winter Farm Cultivates Success With Integrated Farming Approach, Sustainable Solutions

 

Winter Farm Q&A with Indoor Ag-Con
Winter Farm leaders (L-R) Yves Daoust, Founder and CTO and Alain Brisebois, President and CEO

Winter Farm’s focus on environmental sustainability, achieving food autonomy, and strategic partnerships has garnered attention and headlines, with recent funding of $46 million raising the bar for its ambitious goals. Indoor Ag-Con had the chance to catch up with the innovative Quebec-based company’s leaders — Yves Daoust, Founder and CTO (pictured above left) and Alain Brisebois, President and CEO (pictured above right)  — to discuss the advantages of their approach, their goal of helping growers replace 10% of Canada’s strawberry imports, the renowned Fraise d’hiver strawberry, funding strategies and future opportunities in the CEA industry.

 Winter Farm is described as a “tech company that designs, deploys, and operates controlled environment agriculture (CEA) solutions that work in harmony with existing agrifood systems.” Can you share how your technology and approach differ from other vertical farms and advantages it offers in terms of yield, quality, and cost-effectiveness?

Yves Daoust: Winter Farm’s concept fully integrates a strawberry vertical farm with an adjacent greenhouse: this shows the company’s deep understanding of the grower’s reality. As a result, our strawberry vertical farm is capable of efficiently heating the greenhouse in the wintertime. As heat recuperation is a major concern in controlled environment agriculture (CEA), this solution constitutes a major innovation that reduces the dependence of greenhouses on fossil fuels and lowers their carbon footprint. In addition, the integration allows for additional revenue generation as farmers can grow strawberries in the vertical farm, as well as peppers, lettuce, eggplant, or tomatoes etc. in the greenhouse using the same amount of energy. The Winter Farm solution exemplifies that it is possible for CEA to be both profitable and environmentally sustainable at the same time. To realize this dual objective, we use a multidisciplinary approach to intelligent automation –  integrating producers’ knowledge, agronomy, engineering,  and artificial intelligence (AI). Our system of environmental digital control, CERVEAU, aims to optimize yield, maximize energy efficiency, and improve revenues by fully characterizing the strawberry plant’s behavior in CEA by data,  physical modeling and machine learning.

One of Winter Farm’s goals is to help growers replace 10% of Canada’s strawberry imports.  Can you speak to some of the environmental and economic benefits that could come from achieving this goal, and how Winter Farm is working to make it a reality?

Alain Brisebois: Vertical farming is a promising new agricultural advance that holds potential for sustainable agriculture in the future.  At Winter Farm, in addition to providing efficient heating of the adjacent greenhouse, vertical farming eliminates the need for chemical pesticides well known for their harmful effects on both the environment and human health. Additionally, since Winter Farm allows local production, it minimizes transportation needs, further reducing the carbon footprint of fruit and vegetable production. Further benefits of our production practices include significantly lower water usage compared to traditional field production and the maximization of cultivable areas with the vertical stacking of the production. By utilizing heat management and recovery technology, we enable growers to produce an array of greenhouse produce in winter, thereby jointly promoting food autonomy and generating additional revenues for the growers. Our goal is to offer sustainable solutions for agriculture, not just for Quebec, but for the communities worldwide that face challenges related to food security.

Please share a little more about the Fraise d’hiver Strawberry and what makes it so special. 

Alain Brisebois: Fraise d’hiver literally translate to “winter berry”. Quebec is renowned for its tasty field strawberries. It brings us a lot of pride to be able to offer consumers that special Quebec taste during the winter months!  Thanks to an optimally controlled environment that ensures high quality, freshness and flavor, the Fraise d’hiver strawberry’s natural sweetness and vibrant red color are truly what make it stands out in the market.

Congratulations on the recent announcement of your $46 million raise! We read that this funding is coming from a variety of sources, including government organizations and private partners.  Can you talk about Winter Farm’s approach to securing funding and building strategic partnerships? 

Alain Brisebois: Thank you very much! In an emerging industry like ours, financing is crucial. This funding was especially important to us as it demonstrates that our concept can be successfully integrated into the agricultural industry and that CEA can be both sustainable and profitable. Winter Farm’s approach to securing funding and building strategic partnerships has always been guided by a strong commitment to innovation and a profit-driven mindset. Additionally, our company’s goals and vision are in line with government priorities, such as promoting food autonomy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and developing a more sustainable economy. When we designed the solution, it was paramount that it be eligible to the available agricultural financing and support programs. We have also demonstrated how the agricultural sector can embrace the digital era with cutting-edge technology that is ready to deploy, which has been instrumental in our success so far. Our Vaudreuil location will soon be producing nearly 1 million kilos of strawberries per year, which is a significant achievement for us and the vertical farming movement. We are now thrilled to continue partnering with growers and building new sites!

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for the CEA industry as a whole in years to come, and how is Winter Farm working to seize them?

Yves Daoust: Currently, a major focus in CEA is on energy accessibility and cost. Winter Farm’s success has been based on addressing this aspect from the outset. This has provided us with the momentum to continue building an increasingly sustainable and profitable CEA solution for fresh produce agriculture. Innovation is crucial for the future of the industry, and as such, Winter Farm is committed to furthering our AI-driven work in agronomy and engineering. Our goal is to ensure that our technologies are profitable and accessible to growers worldwide.

To learn more,visit the Winter Farm website.