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Tag: indoor farming

CEA Alliance Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan Senate Bill to Scale Supply Chain Loan Guarantee Program at USDA

As reported in HortiDaily,  the CEA Alliance applauds the introduction of the Food Supply Chain Capacity and Resiliency Act of 2024 by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mike Braun (R-IN), which would provide critical alternative funding for the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) industry and other similar capital-intensive food supply chain-related industries by enhancing and making permanent USDA’s previous Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program. 

“The CEA Alliance applauds Senators Sherrod Brown and Mike Braun for working together to ensure that America’s indoor farming industry has the financial tools it needs to continue to grow and scale,” said Tom Stenzel, Executive Director for the CEA Alliance. “Indoor farming is helping to build a more resilient fresh food supply chain. The next farm bill must enhance and make permanent the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program so that producers can access valuable financing to help the industry grow.”
“At a time when the U.S. is importing more fresh food than ever before, Congress must advance critical legislation like the Food Supply Chain Capacity and Resiliency Act to support innovative supply chain solutions such as indoor farming,” said Colin O’Neil, Chair of the CEA Alliance’s Public Policy Working Group and Senior Director of Public Policy & Social Impact for Bowery. “Being able to grow fresh produce indoors all year round is a win for consumers, a win for the environment, and a win for the fresh food supply chain – greater support through programs like these will help the American indoor farming industry grow and thrive.

Read the full story from HortiDaily …

 

Harvest Today: Revolutionizing Local Food Cultivation, One Wall At A Time

Photo by Darcy Finley

Harvest Today is on a mission to transform local food cultivation, one wall at a time. From addressing food insecurity to building collaborative partnerships and embracing sustainability, the company is driven by a commitment to practical change. In this month’s CEA Q&A, Director of Global Sales and Marketing Peter Maher sheds light on the company’s straightforward approach to simplify, empower and revolutionize local food cultivation through its innovative Harvest Wall systems.

Harvest Today’s tag line is “Indoor Farming Made Simple.” Can you elaborate on how your Harvest Wall systems are revolutionizing indoor food production and what sets them apart from other methods currently in use within the CEA industry?

When developing the Harvest Wall, we had two objectives – maximize plant count per square foot and make growing SIMPLE – The Harvest Wall achieves both.

Farming, in and of itself is a simple concept – plant, grow, harvest – repeat. Though we all know it’s never that simple, especially indoors, that’s really what it comes down to.

The Harvest Wall Vertigation™ System was developed with the idea of simplicity always top of mind.

Every aspect of the wall was purposefully designed with the user in mind — from the stackable grow tiles, that make the grow system more economical for manufacturing and shipping, offer the best plant density per square foot available and are able to fit in any shape/size grow space — to the patented Vertigation™ System and flood rail, providing precision fertigation and eliminating the need for emitters.

Each Harvest Wall comes ready to go and is equipped with all the hardware and electronics needed to start growing. There is an integrated reservoir, irrigation pump and controller that can be accessed manually or through a smart phone. Whether you are a beginner or experienced grower – the Harvest Wall Vertigation™ System can suit your needs.

Your mission includes empowering communities to address food insecurity at its source. Could you share any examples of how your technology has already made a positive impact on local food access and sustainability?

Photo by Darcy Finley

A natural focus of Harvest Today’s sales has been the Canadian Market – where Founder, Rick Langille is from. Canada has no shortage of rural, northern hemisphere regions where fresh produce is simply unavailable. Harvest Today currently has several operating farms in rural communities across Canada. We work with numerous First Nation organizations for not only food production, but also ceremonial herbs and spices no longer available to the indigenous peoples of the area.

Collaboration seems to be a key aspect of Harvest Today’s approach, as evidenced by your partnerships with other suppliers, distributors, and growers. Can you elaborate on the importance of collaboration in driving innovation and scalability within the indoor ag sector, and how these partnerships are contributing to the success of Harvest Wall systems?

Photo by Darcy Finley

The phrase, “It Takes A Village,” always comes to mind when discussing Harvest Today’s partnerships and collaborations. Yes, we build walls, that’s what we do. But Harvest Today isn’t just here to build walls – our objective is to GROW FOOD, and we can’t do it alone. Having solid trusted partners to help round out the offering and provide expertise in their field is our village – whether it’s lighting, cooling, consumables or anything in-between, we want to be able to point our customers in the right direction.

I’d like to call out SpectraGrow here, as our go-to LED lighting partner. Having SpectraGrow as a resource means we can confidently provide our customers with the latest in LED hardware and technology. With so many options out there – it can be daunting for a potential customer to just google “grow lights.”  We want to be that resource and having trusted partners is the only way to do it.

The company’s interest in ESG initiatives, particularly in bringing Harvest Walls to schools and prisons, is noteworthy. How do you envision these efforts making a positive impact, both in terms of food access and broader community engagement with sustainable agriculture practices

A cool thing about this business – for the most part, is that what’s good for ESG, is also usually good for business.  It’s not a this or that sort of situation. No matter how or where a Harvest Wall is being used – it’s growing local food – and that’s what we’re here for.

We are very proud ESG efforts and make them a focus of our everyday operations and lives. From an access point of view – when we say we’re here to grow food, we mean it! That’s the number one objective, grow local healthy food. The positive impact of just that, growing local healthy food, knows no bounds.

Looking ahead, what exciting developments or initiatives can we expect from Harvest Today in the coming months?

We will be launching our 4 port grow tile for the Harvest Today Harvest Wall Vertigation™ System. Our standard 6 port grow tile consists of 6 2” plant ports. The 4 port grow tile will have 4 3.25” plant ports. The volume of each port on the 4 port grow tile will be nearly 5x that of the 2” ports. This will provide a significantly larger root zone greatly expanding the portfolio of plants that can be grown in a Harvest Wall – most notably – larger fruiting and vining plants like tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, peppers, and more.

 

Harvest Today

 

For more information on Harvest Today, visit the website.

The Packer: Going Dark | Square Roots Explores Indoor Vertical Farming Without Light

This Story By Aaron Gonzalez Ran In The Packer April 8, 2024 Edition

The PackerNew York-based controlled environment agriculture company Square Roots has unveiled a program that aims to remove lighting from commercial indoor vertical farming systems to reduce energy demands and costs.

Through partnerships and focused research, the company says it is exploring techniques like heterotrophic growing to operate indoor farms in the dark, with the goal of lower production costs and environmental impact while maintaining year-round fresh food production.

(Photo above courtesy of Square Roots) 

“Over the last 12 months Square Roots has created a platform to accelerate agricultural research, working with partners across both indoor and outdoor farming, alongside science-focused organizations and foundations,” Square Roots co-founder and CEO Tobias Peggs told The Packer.

The program seeks to demonstrate that light can be removed from a commercial indoor vertical farming system; the benefits of indoor farming remain, but the system can now operate with radically reduced energy needs. This translates directly to significantly lower production costs and associated carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e, he said.

SCIENTIFIC BACKING, SUPPORTED BY COLLABORATION

To enable this new approach, Square Roots is working with gene-edited CRISPR plants that add biomass by uptaking carbon through their root systems rather than relying on photosynthesis under light. The underlying science was initially developed by Robert Jinkerson, a specialist in artificial photosynthesis at the University of California, Riverside, in conjunction with Feng Jiao, a chemist at the University of Delaware.

Read complete story at The Packer >>

Babylon Introduces The STEM Garden At Indoor Ag-Con 2024

(Richmond, VA) Babylon Micro-Farms, Inc., North America’s leading manufacturer of on-site, modular vertical farms, officially launched its latest Micro-Farm, the STEM Garden, designed for the education market. The team showcased the new design at Indoor Ag-Con, March 11-12, 2024.  The company is taking pre-orders and will begin shipping units in June 2024.

Their latest Micro-Farming system is designed to engage the senses and expand the mind by delivering an accessible and affordable interactive farming experience to the education market. After delivering Micro-Farms to hundreds of locations worldwide, Babylon has collected feedback from a wide range of educators to inform the design for the STEM Garden. Their engineering team has carefully designed the product to deliver the highest-quality farming experience available to educators at an accessible price point. STEM Garden is simple, reliable, and configurable, making it a workhorse for teaching various science, technology, nutrition, and mathematics topics.

Alexander Olesen (CEO & Co-Founder) said, “The STEM Garden represents the next step in our journey to make hydroponic agriculture accessible to all. We have set the standard for safe, reliable, remotely managed vertical farms manufactured here in the USA, enabling anyone to become an indoor farmer. The STEM Garden is an accessible device that significantly expands the market for on-site vertical farms in the classroom and, eventually, home.”

After researching the education space over the last few years, Babylon has created a versatile growing system to engage, educate, and inspire students by bringing farm-to-table into the classroom. Here are some of the key features:

Hands-on Learning – Removable trays in workstations promote hands-on learning for crop planting, nurturing, and harvesting.

Classroom-Compatible – Our design fits K-12 classrooms, maximizing space without compromising on the quality of education.

Student Led-Experiments – Designed for simplicity, our unit encourages students to work together, promoting teamwork and collaboration skills.

Exciting Seed Varieties – Students can explore the world of plant biology in depth, including different leafy greens, herbs, flowers, and microgreens.

Educational Integration – Get lesson plans and materials for hands-on gardening integrated into your curriculum.

Food Safe Cultivation – Our enclosed and locked gardening system ensures ideal plant growth with minimal effort and a more efficient and secure learning environment.

A dietician with Aramark at VCU, Julia Danisewicz RD, said, “We love our Babylon Micro-Farm; our students love the knowledge that their food was grown just a few feet away. As a dietician, seeing a university like VCU value sustainable, pesticide-free food choices for its students is exciting. I didn’t have a green thumb before working with the farm, but it is so easy to use that now I feel like a pro.”

The STEM Garden is available for pre-order today.  Access the info sheet, spec sheet and please sign up for the waitlist here. 

About Babylon
Founded in 2017, Babylon provides an indoor farming service to enable businesses and communities to have a year-round supply of ultra-fresh produce at the touch of a button. They manufacture all their products in the United States. The BabylonIQ software platform remotely manages the modular vertical farming systems network to make sustainable agriculture accessible to institutional food service clients like Compass, Aramark, and Sodexo. The service includes semi-automated vertical farms, software, and supplies wrapped into a flat monthly fee.

Link to TED Talk: Watch my TEDx Talk on “The Next Generation of Vertical Farming

Link to Times Magazine: Top Greentech Companies 2024

Indoor Ag Con 2024 Boosts Worldwide Attendance At Largest Event To Date

16% Attendance Increase For Las Vegas March 11-12, 2024 Event That Drew CEA Industry Members from 49 U.S. States, 31 Countries

(MARCH 18, 2024) — Indoor Ag-Con marked its 11th edition with increases in attendee and exhibitor participation for its March 11-12, 2024 run at Caesars Forum Las Vegas. The exhibiting company roster grew by 54% with a sold-out show floor featuring 207 companies in 287 booths vs. 134 companies in 174 booths for 2023. Attendance saw a 16% increase over 2023 with 1584 attendees from 49 states, the District of Columbia and US territories, as well as 31 other countries. Attendees included C-level execs and other decision-makers involved with every sector of controlled environment agriculture — grower/operators, investors, tech providers, start-ups, academia, government, real estate developers, food service retail, suppliers and more.

For the third year, Indoor Ag-Con once again co-located with the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show, attracting 146 attendees from that event to the Indoor Ag-Con expo floor — taking the total attendance number over the 1700 mark.

“Every year our speakers, exhibitors and attendees from across the country and globe look forward to Indoor Ag-Con as it brings together our industry as a community to hold important discussions on timely topics and show off what’s new in indoor agriculture,” said Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con. “This year we experienced record exhibitor growth and attracted companies and attendees from 35 countries to our global event. Next year, we are moving to a new location providing more expo and meeting space as we continue to grow with this ever-evolving industry.”

Among the 11th Annual Edition highlights:

indoor ag-con 2025Keynote Sessions
Each year, Indoor Ag-Con features three inspiring Keynotes and this year’s all-star speakers included Paul Sellew, Founder and CEO of Little Leaf Farms. A mid-morning keynote on day one, “Leader Insights: Charting the Future Landscape of Controlled Environment Agriculture”, was  led by industry veterans 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, delivered the day two morning keynote address.

Indoor Ag-Con 2025Educational Tracks & Expo Floor Theater Panel Discussions
The Conference features two jam-packed days of educational and insightful sessions from 90+ speakers in four tracks including Planning & Operations, Grower, Cultivating Possibilities and NEW this year, the Cannabis track.

Sold Out Expo Floor
In 2024, the Expo Hall grew and expanded boasting 207 world-class companies in 287 Booths that showcased the most cutting-edge technologies, products and services in the indoor agriculture industry from lighting and control systems to substrates, equipment, irrigation systems.

Networking Opportunities
Daily lunches and an afternoon cocktail reception on the expo floor expanded the show’s networking opportunities.

Indoor Ag-Con |Philips VIP Welcome Party
Back by popular demand, Philips Horticulture LED Solutions teamed up once again with Indoor Ag-Con to tee-up the 2024 edition with a VIP Welcome Par-tee on Sunday evening, March 10 at Topgolf Las Vegas.  Indoor Ag-Con conference speakers and other industry VIPs came together for an incredible evening of golf, networking, cocktails, food, music and fun – all compliments of Philips LED Horticultural Lighting.

Looking ahead, Indoor Ag-Con Las Vegas will move to the Westgate Las Vegas for its March 11-12, 2025 edition.  The new location provides additional expo floor and meeting room space to accommodate the event’s steady growth.

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

ABOUT:

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.

 

 

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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!