Tag: strawberries

Katie Seawell Bowery Farming

Resiliency, Sustainability, Smart Farms: Q & A With Bowery Farming CCO Katie Seawell

Bowery FarmingFrom the recent opening of its largest, most technologically advanced sustainable commercial smart farm in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to its expansion into fruiting and vine crops with the launch of new strawberry varieties , Bowery Farming has been making a lot of headlines lately.

Indoor Ag-Con had the opportunity to catch up with Katie Seawell, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of the largest vertical farming company in the U.S, to get her thoughts on CEA industry trends and learn more about Bowery’s innovations, programs and mission to grow food smarter, sustainably, for more people, in more places.

What trend(s) are you seeing as it relates to how/why retailers are investing in CEA?

Investment in CEA comes down to two words: resiliency and sustainability. The past two years have made it painfully clear that climate change, global events, and supply chain disruption all have an enormous impact on our food systems. We need resiliency now more than ever before. By growing indoors, 365 days a year, with zero impact from drought, wildfires, or extreme temperatures, Bowery is growing a resilient supply of pesticide-free produce. And not only resilient, but predictable and reliable—we know, and therefore retailers know, exactly how much produce to expect, which cuts down on food waste.

Retailers and consumers are knowledgeable about where food comes from, and are investing in CEA for its sustainability practices. Bowery farms are powered 100% by renewable energy and cut down food miles drastically.

A product that is both good for the planet and more reliable is a powerful investment for retailers.

Can you share details around Bowery’s new partnership with the Nature Conservancy and what you hope to achieve through that relationship?

Bowery and Nature Conservancy Partnership

Bowery partnered with The Nature Conservancy to spread the word about #Rewilding—a movement committed to restoring degraded farmland and forests. A pack takeover during Earth Month and beyond included a QR code, available in over 1,000 grocery stores, to connect customers to information on actionable sustainability and restoration efforts, such as supporting The Nature Conservancy’s ‘Plant a Billion Trees’ campaign.

In addition to pledging to restore 50 acres in the U.S., in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Bowery sought to raise awareness about Rewilding, and spotlight what is possible when we give Mother Earth a break – allowing land to ‘Rewild’. Our packs featured cutouts of six animals, such as the Louisiana Black Bear, which was recently delisted as an endangered species thanks to conservation efforts.

The missions of Bowery and TNC meet in this partnership, as Rewilding and indoor vertical farming are both part of the solution to address global challenges from climate change to ecosystem biodiversity to feeding growing populations. When we grow inside, we can restore outside.

Congrats on the recent opening of your newest farm in Bethlehem, PA. It’s described as Bowery’s largest, most technologically advanced & sustainable commercial smart farm. Can you share why you chose the Bethlehem site and how this newest farm fits into Bowery’s growth strategy?

Bowery Bethlehem PABethlehem represents the next chapter in climate-smart agriculture at Bowery. The Bethlehem Farm, once a non-arable industrial site, is now modern farmland. This transformation from brownfield to vertical farm means that fresh, healthy food is now being grown, year-round, where it was previously thought no food would ever grow again.

This commercial farm is also a blueprint for Bowery. It features a replicable system that will allow us to grow food wherever and whenever it is needed. The farm is powered with 100% renewable energy and features 15% more efficient LED lighting. Bowery’s Bethlehem Farm will bring fresh produce to a population of 50-million people within a 200-mile radius.

We chose Bethlehem for several reasons: to meet regional demand for pesticide-free, local produce grown sustainably; to further our mission of democratizing access to reliable, healthy produce; and to help fight the climate crisis by building resilient regional food systems on previously non-arable land. What was once the flagship site of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation is now, in part, a modern farm that will help feed the community.

Tell us a little more about aGirlculture, the women’s development network you co-founded at Bowery and serve as the group’s executive sponsor.

AGIRLCulture at Bowery FarmingOver the course of my career, so many talented women leaders helped shape and inspire my path. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their encouragement and support. This background, where women fiercely support one another, led me to co-found aGirlculture at Bowery. The group brings together women of all levels to connect with peers and senior leaders. We’re creating a space for mentorship and other opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Our programming has included guest speakers, roundtable discussions, International Women’s Day celebrations, and more. During the height of the pandemic, we moved forward with our programming over Zoom.

It’s been very rewarding to build a space where rich discussions can happen, where we can dig into culturally relevant topics for women and lay the foundation for women to advocate for each other. And we’re just getting started.

Before joining Bowery, you were with Starbucks where you held a number of senior leadership roles in branding, marketing and product development. Can you share any lessons learned or challenges from your time at Starbucks that have helped you in your role at Bowery?

Two main lessons learned come to mind. First, Starbucks instilled in me a deep belief that we are all stewards of our planet, and that it is our responsibility to care for the environment to the best of our ability. This value led me to Bowery and guides the urgency I feel when it comes to our sustainability goals.

Second, my time at Starbucks taught me that the private sector cannot be a bystander when it comes to the challenges of climate change. Businesses need to put full weight and resources behind sustainability to be part of the solution to the climate crisis. By making responsible decisions to build sustainable models, we can solve really hard problems.

What’s next for Bowery?

Bethlehem Farm Bowery FarmingThe Bethlehem Farm, our Smart Farm of the Future, is a model for what’s next at Bowery. We have two additional farms under construction in Locust Grove, Georgia and Arlington, Texas and we’re on track to double our number of farms by 2023, with the goal of helping to alleviate the strains insecurity puts on the U.S. food supply and economy.

We’re also committed to innovation: our R&D team is continuing the diversification of our pesticide-free produce portfolio, unlocking new possibilities and flavors in food. This includes more SKUs in addition to leafy greens and herbs, such as strawberries and other fruiting and vine crops.

We envision a Bowery smart farm in every city in the U.S. and ultimately the entire world, and we’re on the growth trajectory to achieve just that.

For more information, visit the Bowery website — https://boweryfarming.com/

Growing Strawberry Seedlings In World’s Most Northern Vertical Farm With Netled’s Vera Technology

Indoor AG-Con 2021 Exhibitor Netled shares that Vera vertical farming technology is now producing strawberry seedlings at the world’s northernmost vertical farm at Kainuu Vocational School, Kajaani, Finland.

Last year Netled delivered and commissioned its Vera LED lighting and climate control technology to the Seppälä vertical farm in Kainuu Vocational School, Kajaani, Finland. Seppälä vertical farm is the northernmost vertical farm in the world, just 250km south of the Arctic Circle.

In addition to its northern latitude, Seppälä vertical is also the largest vertical project for teaching and research purposes in the world.

“The fantastic facilities at Seppälä vertical enable the education of versatile growers and important research in the field. This will also be an immense help for the companies developing vertical farming technology”, comments Niko Kivioja, CEO at Netled.

The Seppälä vertical farm serves as a great example of the benefits of vertical farming: even at over 64 degrees north, the location doesn’t influence the vertical farming process.

During the first year of operations, different types of salad and herbs have been grown, as well as two different batches of strawberry seedlings.

Different recipes for growing have also been created during the first year.

The overall incentive of the project is to better understand the plants and the entire growing process. In the future, Seppälä vertical farm aims to have a completely carbon-neutral production method and run on solar power.

Kari Komulainen, Head Grower at Peuraniemi Nursery, has been extremely satisfied with the results of the vertical farm so far: “The two batches of strawberry seedlings we have grown so far have proven without doubt the efficiency and profitability of producing seedlings vertically”, Kari explains.

Watch the video to see what else Kari has to say about growing strawberry seedlings at the world’s most northern vertical farm

New Sustainability Partnership Launched Between Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc.

ZipGrow and Sodexo Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor NewsOn March 11, 2021  two international industry leaders, Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc., launched a first of its kind partnership to develop more sustainable local food chains throughout North America.

Sodexo, world leader in Quality of Life Services, has joined forces with ZipGrow Inc., the manufacturer of the world’s most installed vertical hydroponic equipment. Together they wll develop a unique program to introduce sustainable growing systems to facilities throughout Canada and the United States of America.

Introducing Innovative  Technology

One of Sodexo’s primary goals is to ensure all our operations are industry leading from a sustainability perspective. “This new partnership with ZipGrow Inc. not only enables us to reduce our carbon emissions of distance traveled for food source, onsite food waste, and packaging requirements, but also to introduce innovative technology to our facilities and team members”, said Normand St-Gelais, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sodexo Canada.

ZipGrow Systems To Be Installed At Sodexo Locations

ZipGrow™ technology is a patented system that utilizes both hydroponic growing systems and vertical planes to maximize production volume within a small footprint. Primarily growing leafy greens such as lettuce and kale, along with herbs and small fruiting crops such as strawberries, ZipGrow systems will be installed in Sodexo locations including educational institutions, conference facilities, and corporate food service centres.

“Having been installed throughout the world over the past decade, our system enables growers, both big and small, to access fresh produce no matter where they are located”, explains Eric Lang, President of ZipGrow Inc. “We are excited to move ahead with this new partnership with Sodexo. Together we will be able to introduce sustainable food to Sodexo locations throughout North America.”

“As a Chef, we are always looking for ways to introduce the freshest possible produce to our kitchens”, said Chef Davide Del Brocco, Sustainability Manager, Sodexo Canada. “By having a grow system on site, we can now not only customize our produce to meet our upcoming needs, but we can also now harvest fresh greens and use them that same day.”Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor ZipGrow

“Having like-minded partners like ZipGrow who understand what is important to us and who are aligned with our values and goals is crucial in working together for a Better Tomorrow.” said Andrea Cantin, Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator, Sodexo Canada. With Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc. both having company values strongly embedded in sustainability, this new partnership will see this innovative agriculture technology being introduced to multiple Sodexo facilities in Canada and the US.

About Sodexo

Sodexo delivers a wide range of customized solutions, designed to optimize work and living environments. The company has been providing food and facilities management services in Canada for over 40 years, with a focus on enhancing safety, work process and well-being. A market leader in Canada, Sodexo has been recognized as a top employer for the past seven consecutive years. Sodexo is proud to have created the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, an independent charitable organization that has raised over $3 million to fight hunger and donated more than one million meals to at-risk youth across Canada since 2007. It is included in the CAC 40, FTSE 4 Good and DJSI indices.

Key figures (as November 2020)
420,000 employees
1st in its sector in both the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and the 2020 SAM sustainability yearbook
64 countries
100 million consumers served daily

About ZipGrow Inc.

ZipGrow Inc. is an international leader in indoor, vertical farming technology. Our flagship product, the ZipGrow™ Tower, is a core component of many of the world’s most innovative farms; from indoor hydroponic warehouses to vertical aquaponic greenhouses and and high-density container farms. For more information contact hello@zipgrow.com or at 1-855-ZIPGROW.