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Tag: Vertical farm

White Paper: Assessment of CEA Workforce Needs and UMKC Student Interest in CEA Education

UMKC White Paper
Click image to download presentation deck from Indoor Ag-Con 2023 Workforce Development panel sharing survey results.

Indoor Ag-Con Academic Ally University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC)’s Dr. Juan Cabrera-Garcia, Dr. Angela Cottrell and their team conducted a survey accessing controlled environment agriculture workforce needs and expectations for future educational programming to attract and train student to enter the sector.  Dr. Cottrell shared some of the survey findings during a workforce development panel discussion at Indoor Ag-Con 2023 and she and the team authored a white paper on the findings as well.  We are pleased to share that presentation here along with a corresponding white paper on their findings.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) systems integrate technology to optimize crop performance via environmental control. There is an urgent need to train the future workforce to meet the needs of the CEA industry as these systems become more technology driven. Therefore, the goal of this project was to inform the development of CEA curriculum by gauging student interest at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) and understanding the knowledge, skills, and degrees desired for different job hierarchies in the CEA industry.

Click image above to download complete whitepaper

A survey was sent to individuals in the CEA industry (academics, growers, and service/technology providers) to determine the knowledge and skills needed for different CEA job positions and the degree that certifies competency for said positions. Another survey was sent to UMKC students to gauge their knowledge of – and interest in – a CEA educational program. Responses from the CEA industry were separated in two groups based on the role of respondents in CEA: roles directly involved in growing crops and support roles (academics and service/technology providers).

There was consensus between both industry groups on the top ranked skills, knowledge, and degree programs for job positions in CEA. The top five positions in demand by the CEA industry are, from highest to lowest ranked: (1) farm manager, (2) farm worker, (3) research & development director, (4) food safety coordinator, and (5) research technicians. The top degrees for the positions listed above are: (a) apprenticeship, (b) two-year associate, (c) graduate,(d) bachelor, and (e) bachelor programs, respectively.

Eighty-nine percent of UMKC students are interested in a lab or greenhouse where they can participate in growing crops. Fifty-three percent of UMKC students are interested, or would consider participating in, an academic minor for Controlled Environment Agriculture. We anticipate that our observations will inform the development of curriculum and degrees that meet the needs of the CEA industry.

Individuals utilizing the results from this project should consider which responses are relevant for their own curricular development needs.

Contact Information

Juan Cabrera-Garcia, PhD

Division of Plant Science & Technology University of Missouri

Columbia, MO 65211 jcabrera-garcia@missouri.edu

Acknowledgements: This project was funded by the USDA HEC Award Number2023-70003-38775. Special thanks to Indoor Ag-Con, Suzanne Pruitt, and Chieri Kubota for their facilitation and support to reach individuals in the CEA industry

Revolutionizing Agriculture: AdeptAg Ushers in the Era of Sustainable Vertical Farming

In the green revolution of the 21st century, one organization stands as a beacon of innovation and sustainable practices—AdeptAg. Established by CEO Rick Parod in early 2022, AdeptAg’s mission has always been to redefine the concept of farming for a more sustainable and efficient future. To that end, they’ve assembled an industry-leading ‘Family of Experts,’ absorbing forward-thinking entities like AgriNomix Automation, Bellpark Automation, Plantech Control Solutions, and Zwart Irrigation Solutions. Their unique blend of expertise in Vertical Farming and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) solutions has made them the horticulture industry’s frontrunner.

The concept of Vertical Farming is not as contemporary as it might seem, with roots plunging deep into ancient history, as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 605 BCE. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that it truly began to blossom as a practical method of farming. The turning point was during WWII, when hydroponics—a subset of Vertical Farming—was employed on a large scale to feed the Allied Forces in the South Pacific, yielding over 8,000 tons of produce. The concept was refined further at Columbia University between 1991 and 1999, under the guidance of Professor Dr. Dickson Despommier. Now hailed as the father of modern Vertical Farming, Despommier and his students successfully devised a way to sustainably feed New York City’s populace via rooftop agriculture, birthing the contemporary approach to multi-story farming.

This promising concept has seen substantial developments over the past decade, thanks to rigorous research, dedicated education, and a relentless drive for global sustainability. Vertical Farming, in conjunction with CEA practices, has enabled growers to raise crops using significantly less land and water. The cherry on top? Complete environmental control, empowering farmers to improve both crop quality and yield.

As we approach a future where our population is projected to surge to two billion within the next three decades, we must rally as a society to ensure sustainable food production. Here’s where AdeptAg steps in, poised to make a maximal impact on eco-friendly growth practices. Through its four business units, it offers an impressive array of solutions from over fourteen suppliers, catering to growers of all scales and requirements.

From the very first day, growers partnering with AdeptAg witness the benefits of a relationship forged in expertise and dedication. Recognizing the unique nature of each grower, environment, and crop, AdeptAg’s skilled team offers a personal experience, helping to formulate the best strategic decisions for your unique situation. Whether you need to augment an existing facility or seek a full-scale turnkey solution, AdeptAg aims to enhance your product quality, increase capacity, tackle labor shortages, advance sustainable practices, and ensure a return on investment.

AdeptAg’s expertise transcends size and product, serving large and small growers alike: whether they cultivate produce or cannabis, operate a vertical farm or maintain a greenhouse, use traditional practices or automation – and everything in between. Their commitment to quality care and expertise is a constant, backed by 24/7 service and support, as well as a fully equipped dedicated parts department. As we navigate the green revolution, AdeptAg leads the way, ensuring that the future of farming is sustainable, efficient, and inclusive.

To discover our solutions, visit our website: adeptag.com

HYVE® & AGEYE® Announce Strategic Partnership Aimed at Bringing Next Generation of Innovation to Indoor Farming

(Verona, Virginia February 15, 2023) –   HYVE Indoor Farming Systems, a solutions-based, manufacturer of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) systems and AGEYE, a preeminent leader in automated platform monitoring for vertical farms and greenhouses, today announced a strategic partnership aimed at bringing unmatched complete technology to the CEA industry and commercial growers.

HYVE is Central Virginia-based and offers complete hydroponic growing solutions with an emphasis on hardware, design, and system infrastructure. AGEYE, from the greater Raleigh, North Carolina area provides sophisticated artificial intelligence capability that monitors every plant within a system for more predictable harvest outcomes and the resultant effect of more profitable harvests.

According to Ron Acorn, President of HYVE, “Our goal remains to provide a total and complete scalable solution for indoor farming. We trace our origin to the LED lighting industry and initially began in CEA by offering a range of LED grow lights. Over time this has evolved to complete systems that include everything from heavy duty racking, controls, food grade trays with automated movement, robotics, nursery, seeding, harvesting equipment, automated tray cleaning, and more. The strategic partnership with AGEYE will now further enhance HYVE systems by providing growers with the choice for a comprehensive integrated artificial intelligence capability that will allow for revolutionary plant and system monitoring.”

Nick Genty, Co-Founder and CEO of AGEYE says about the alliance: “AGEYE’s focused core competency has been software and artificial intelligence (AI). Our AI systems utilize visual inputs and growth development insights and essentially turn them into autonomous actions within a system’s architecture. What this means for a grower is that we have a sophisticated means to monitor the health and development of crops through every stage of the growth process and invoke actions that will help to identify abnormal growth patterns that may adversely affect harvest and profitability. We can mitigate issues at an early stage leading to much better outcomes for the grower.”

He adds: “We are excited to partner with HYVE as we view their systems to be the perfect fit for our artificial intelligence solution. Their platform is a complete and robust scalable technology answer and our system as an integration will provide those in the controlled environment sector an unmatched choice. Together we will create truly exceptional outcomes by bringing to market an automated turn-key solution that can really be viewed as the standard for the next generation of vertical indoor farming systems.”

HYVE will be exhibiting at Indoor Ag-Con in booth 619. AGEYE Technologies is a platinum partner of Indoor Ag-Con and Nick Genty will serve as a moderator for a discussion on “Avoiding Nutrient Imbalances” the second day of the show.

More information on HYVE can be found at www.growhyve.com while additional information on AGEYE can be found on the company’s website www.ageyetech.com.

 

 

Soli Organic CEO Matt Ryan Joins Keynote Line-Up For Indoor Ag-Con Las Vegas 2022

Soli Organic CEO Matt Ryan will lead the day two opening morning keynote address for the 9th annual edition of Indoor Ag-Con, Feb. 28 – Mar. 1, 2022, at Caesars Forum, Las Vegas, NV. Themed “Growing Your Business,” the premier trade show and conference for indoor|vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture will give attendees the opportunity to explore new resources on the expo floor and hear from Ryan, other CEO headliners, thought leaders and industry experts from today’s cutting-edge farms and CEA companies.

Soli Organic, formerly known as Shenandoah Growers, Inc., is the nation’s only soil-based, controlled environment agriculture company delivering 100% USDA certified organic produce to more than 20,000 retail stores nationwide . The new name — Soli Organic — which is derived from the Latin word for soil, reflects the pivotal role of soil in enabling the company’s mission to make low-cost, high-quality, organic produce grown nearby available to everyone.

During his keynote presentation on March 1, 2022, 8 – 8:50 AM, Matt Ryan will share more about his company’s plans to change the world of organic produce by “Bringing Nature Indoors” ™ with its soil-based, certified organic biofarms.

With 7 growing facilities, 12 operating facilities, 20,000 retail locations served and well over a hundred million units of fresh herbs and greens annually, the company is just getting started.  The recently announced $120 million financing arrangement with leading real estate development firm Decennial Group is a key component of the Company’s strategy to further expand production capacity to meet growing demand.

As CEO, Matt’s focus is on strengthening the company’s competitive advantages and achieving scaled topline growth. Prior to his role at Soli Organic, Matt served as both the chief marketing officer and the chief strategy officer at Starbucks where he developed and executed strategy, managed the food and beverage portfolio, instituted a data analytics function, oversaw the development of the digital experience, 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 from Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude.

Learn more about Matt Ryan and his Indoor Ag-Con keynote session here.

“We are thrilled to have Matt join us in Las Vegas,” says Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con LLC .  “From his proven leadership roles with Starbucks and Walt Disney to his exciting vision for Soli Organic, Matt brings a unique perspective to our keynote stage.”

ROBUST 2022 CONFERENCE SCHEDULE NOW IN DEVELOPMENT
Matt Ryan joins the Indoor Ag-Con 2022  CEO headliner keynote line-up, which also includes the opening morning kick-off session with Steve Platt, CEO, BrightFarms and Steven Bradley, VP, Cox Cleantech, Cox Enterprises; and a day one mid-morning session from Jonathan Webb, CEO | Founder, AppHarvest.    The 2022 conference will also include a full roster of panel discussions offering a deep dive into three core tracks – Grower, Business & Technology – as well as panel sessions on the expo floor theater.

Attendees will find more new initiatives and show highlights to explore in February, including:

CO-LOCATION WITH NATIONAL GROCERS ASSOCATION SHOW
New for 2022, Indoor Ag-Con will co-locate with the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show, the leading trade show and conference for independent grocers, offering even more networking and business opportunities for attendees and exhibitors alike.  The NGA Show and Indoor Ag-Con visitors will have access to all exhibits, and discounts will be available for cross-over educational event attendance.  Look for more details coming soon.

EXPANDED EXHIBIT FLOOR
2022 will also welcome the largest expo floor yet for Indoor Ag-Con.  From irrigation and LED lighting to environmental control systems, substrates, greenhouse equipment, energy solutions, business services and more, attendees will have the chance to see the latest introductions and innovations from some of the biggest names in the business, as well as emerging leaders.

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

QUICK FACTS:
WHEN:                 Monday, Feb. 28 – Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2022
WHERE:              
Caesars Forum, 3911 Koval Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89101
INFO:                    For information on exhibiting or attending visit www.indoor.ag or email suzanne@indoor.ag


ABOUT INDOOR AG-CON LLC
Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the premier trade event for vertical farming | indoor agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis |hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. In December 2018, three event industry professionals – Nancy Hallberg, Kris Sieradzki and Brian Sullivan – acquired Indoor Ag-Con LLC, setting the stage for further expansion of the events globally. More information: https://indoor.ag

ABOUT SOLI ORGANIC
Founded in 1989 as Shenandoah Growers, Inc., Soli Organic Inc. is the leading grower and marketer of fresh organic culinary herbs in the United States, providing sustainable, USDA certified organic, regionally grown produce to retailers coast-to-coast. The Rockingham, Virginia-based company has developed the nation’s largest commercial indoor organic, soil-based growing system and continues to redefine how to bring fresh, organic, and sustainably farmed produce to market – operating across a nationally integrated platform of farms, production, and logistics facilities. For more information, please visit www.soliorganic.com.

Agritecture To Host Pre-Event Urban Farm Planning Workshop

Urban and controlled environment agriculture advisory firm Agritecture will host the pre-event workshop, “Planning Your Commercial Urban Farming Business,” on Sunday, February 27, 2022 – the day before Indoor Ag-Con opens — February 28 – March 1, 2022 at Caesars Forum, Las Vegas, NV. Focused on providing participants with a clear understanding of how to think strategically and avoid mistakes when planning an urban farming business, the workshop will run from 2 – 5 pm.

Participants will receive access to Agritecture Designer, Agritecture’s proprietary urban farm planning software. This workshop will utilize Agritecture Designer and participants will work in teams to complete a design workshop to explore how urban agriculture might fit in with their current projects or long-term goals.

Workshop participants will also meet and hear from some of Agritecture Designer Partners and Indoor Ag-Con exhibitors,  including Ceres Greenhouse Solutions and Montel.

The Agritecture workshop is an optional pre-event workshop add-on available to Indoor Ag-Con attendees for just $150.  To learn more and sign up, visit www.indoor.ag/agritecture-pre-event-workshop/

“We are excited to partner with Agritecture to bring this comprehensive educational opportunity to our grower audience,” says Brian Sullivan,” partner, Indoor Ag-Con, LLC.  “Participants are sure to find this workshop to be a great  way to kick off their Indoor Ag-Con experience.  Not only will it help them strategically navigate the concurrent Indoor Ag-Con and National Grocers Association Show events that start the next day, the workshop also adds even more networking, market research, and partnership development opportunities for their businesses.”

Led by Agritecture’s Director of Digital Strategy, Ricky Stephens;  Marketing & Sustainability Lead, Briana Zagami; and Director of Consulting, Djavid Amidi-Abraham, the workshop outline includes:

Lesson 1 | Introduction to Commercial Urban Farming

  • Understanding the full spectrum of urban agriculture solutions & impact categories
  • Key lessons learned from current case studies and past failures
  • How to position your farm for success

Lesson 2 | Choosing Your Equipment, Crops & Marketing

  • Greenhouse vs. Vertical Farm considerations
  • An introduction to hydroponic systems
  • Understanding lighting options, nutrient solutions, air flow, and CO2 enrichment
  • How to conduct proper market research
  • Marketing & selling your product
  • Evaluating various sales channels

Lesson 3 | Presentations from Partners, including

  • Ceres Greenhouse Solutions
  • Montel

Design Workshop | Participants will be broken into teams

Teams will develop an urban farming concept based on a selected site location and parameters using Agritecture’s proprietary urban farm planning software, Agritecture Designer.

 

INDOOR AG-CON 2022 QUICK FACTS
WHAT:                 Premier trade show & conference for indoor |vertical farming and controlled environmentagriculture industry
WHEN:                 Monday, Feb. 28 – Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2022
WHERE:              
Caesars Forum, 3911 Koval Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89101
INFO:                    For information on exhibiting or attending visit www.indoor.ag or email suzanne@indoor.ag


ABOUT INDOOR AG-CON LLC
Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the premier trade event for vertical farming | indoor agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis | hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. In December 2018, three event industry professionals – Nancy Hallberg, Kris Sieradzki and Brian Sullivan – acquired Indoor Ag-Con LLC,  setting the stage for further expansion of the event. More information: www.indoor.ag

ABOUT AGRITECTURE
Agritecture was founded by Henry Gordon-Smith in 2011 to help others navigate the crucial planning stage for their urban farming business and avoid costly mistakes. Since then, Agritecture has grown into the world’s leading advisory firm on urban and controlled environment agriculture, working with clients of all types – from entrepreneurs, to investors, to technology providers – in more than 35 countries. In recent years, Agritecture’s service offerings have evolved to meet industry needs beyond farm planning and include strategy, due diligence, market research, and more. For more information visit www.agritecture.com

IGS Vertical Farming Buyers Guide Series

IGS’ latest publication, The Vertical Farming Buyers’ Guide Series,’ presents the latest, verifiable facts about our vertical farming system. Make an informed decision about whether vertical farming could form a profitable part of your business.

IGS split the series into the different areas you need to consider before setting up, expanding or diversifying your own vertical farming operation. The Buyers’ Guide Series comes in three parts:

IGS is a technology company that has combined farming and engineering expertise to create a vertical farming system that delivers grower benefits while also addressing the pressing challenges such as food security and sustainability.

Our Total Controlled Environment Agriculture vertical farming system allows customers to grow crops in a clean environment with zero pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, while supporting reductions in power and labour requirements.

To learn more about IGS, visit www.IntelligentGrowthSolutions.com

Q&A with Planet Farms Founders Travaglini and Benatoff

Focus On Flavor, Sustainability & Automation

Last month, Italy’s Planet Farms officially opened its new farm in Cavenago, just outside Milan.  Described as the largest and most advanced vertical farm in Europe, the operation is the brainchild of Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Luca Travaglini and Daniele Benatoff.

Friends since childhood, Travaglini and Benatoff’s company emerged from the duo’s shared passion to break through traditional agriculture, and is grounded in their Italian roots and focused on food quality and flavor.  Indoor Ag-Con had the chance to learn more about their vision, goals and plans for the future in this month’s CEO Q&A.

Congratulations on the recent opening of your new farm in Cavenago.   What makes your new facility different and unique from others?

Our union of world-class technology and the best of Italian agricultural tradition offers a concrete, scalable answer to the need for agronomic products that are healthy, high quality, low environmental impact, available all year round, and affordable for everyone. With its fully integrated supply chain, a seed comes in and a finished product goes out. We offer a virtuous system of food production that ensures food safety and protects against sudden climatic shocks that could compromise regular food supply and product quality.Planet Farms Opens Newest Farm in October 2021

Where some farms focus on the highest yield at the lowest cost, Planet Farms puts emphasis on flavor first. Can you share more around that philosophy and how you’re working with chefs to help promote your product?

We are proud of our partnership with the Cerea brothers, owners of the 3 Michelin® Star restaurant Da Vittorio, in Brusaporto, near Bergamo. The collaboration started in 2020 during the pandemic, when we donated our products to the Bergamo hospital’s canteen which was managed by the Cerea brothers. They got to try our produce then and were so impressed by its authentic and fresh flavor that the idea of a partnership took form. That road led us to the construction of a Vertical Farm in Brusaporto to supply fresh products directly to the starred restaurant. We became two partners united by a common vision: bringing unique flavor and quality in everything we do. These are just some of the ingredients of this unique gastronomic experience that has developed into a true friendship between our organizations.

Sustainability is a key part of your mission – can you share some of Planet Farms sustainable practices and initiatives ?

Sustainability is the point of departure and the very essence of Planet Farms across every dimension: environmental, social, and economic.   We designed our supply chain system to be life-giving and cyclical, to maximize the abundance of harvests while minimizing energy consumption and waste of any kind. In Planet Farms’ facilities, the water and minerals not absorbed by crops are reintegrated and recirculated into the system reducing water consumption by over 95% compared to traditional farming and production processes. Multi-level farming saves more than 90% of the soil promoting biodiversity, local ecosystems and topsoil restoration. Beyond cultivating produce that respects the environment and human health, Planet Farms is among the first in ready-to-eat salads to use FSC® paper packaging, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for sustainably sourced, recyclable materials.Planet Farms Focuses on Flavor

 

In 2019, together with our partners Signify, 255 and Sirti, we took part in the LIFE Program, the European Union’s key tool to support sustainable businesses protecting nature and the environment.

We presented our innovative production system and explained how it allows us to save an enormous amount of water. This and many other cutting edge aspects of our company led to our selection among many other major projects. This award meant that we received funding to achieve our ambitious sustainability goals through our Vertical Farm in Cavenago near Milan.

Life Project Planet Farms

Tell us about what you are growing currently and if you have plans to add new crops or varieties.

Our crops grow naturally, thanks to light, water, air and minerals, but without exposure to stress caused by bad weather, excessive heat, parasites, pathogenic micro-organisms or competition with weeds. We currently have four different products; a baby blond lettuce called Lattugood and three different mixes called: Oriental Yummix, Spicy Yummix and Delicate Yummix. Our range is constantly expanding so stay tuned for more exciting launches!Planet Farms Crops

Can you tell us a little about your AI system, Gaia VF

“Gaia VF” is a system for monitoring vegetable growth that generates a constant data flow for analysis, permitting the development of an increasingly ideal environment around the crops and improving production with each cycle. It is at the core of everything we do and analyses and optimizes every step in our automated process.Planet Farms Automation Focus

What’s next for Planet Farms?- 

There are a lot of activities in the pipeline. With the huge amount of requests for our products we have to expand across Italy, so in the coming year we will build a facility twice the size of Cavenago. That same design will be used for the expansion across Europe in 2022. Next to that we are already trialing new crops to be added to the portfolio in the near future; these range from new mixes and specialty leaves to fruiting crops. We are expanding our research facilities as well, so we will also make our way into the B2B segment, growing crops for ingredients, compounds and raw material optimization.

This is just the start for us, we want the world to experience the differentiation our product range brings to the table!

To learn more about Planet Farms, visit www.planetfarms.ag or email info@planetfarms.ag

Wilder Fields Unveils Key Component For One Of World’s Largest Vertical Farms

Wilder Fields unveils key component for one of world’s largest vertical farms now under construction in a vacant Super Target in Calumet City
Unique system housed in 22 cleanrooms to yield 25 million plants annually

Calumet City, Ill., August 11, 2021— Today at Wilder Fields, Thaddeus Jones, mayor, City of Calumet City, joined Jake Counne, founder and CEO, Wilder Fields, to officially unveil a proprietary automation system for the indoor vertical farm now under construction in a 135,000-square-foot, vacant Super Target in the city. Using Wilder Fields’ technology, this innovative venture will be one of the world’s largest commercial vertical farms, comprising a fully controlled and automated indoor environment.

When phase one construction is completed in first-quarter 2022, the company will safely grow and harvest dozens of full-flavored, pesticide-free varieties of leafy greens, eventually reaching a yield of up to 25 million plants annually.

“Calumet City is excited to join Wilder Fields in bringing this exciting project to our community,” said Mayor Jones. “Wilder Fields is changing indoor farming for years to come, and I look forward to its success and growth. We are building a world-class community and Wilder Fields is at the head of the pack in helping Calumet City become the leader in world- class businesses that add value to the lives of our residents.”

“Calumet City gets it,” added Counne. “We collaborated for two years before completing the infrastructure and building out the farm. The city has supported us as we wrote the playbook for transforming vacant big-box structures into high-tech farms. Calumet City shares our vision of the positive impact Wilder Fields can have, not only on this community but also on the future of sustainable indoor agriculture.”

Jones and Counne used a giant switch to light up a demonstration model of Wilder Fields’ 20-foot tall grow towers. These proprietary towers will be housed in 22 cleanrooms— each measuring 105,000 cubic feet and containing four towers—that form the basis of Wilder Fields’ system, which employs lean manufacturing principles that disrupt and improve upon previous designs to manage the costs that have bedeviled some attempts at large-scale indoor farming.

Jake Counne Wilder Fields
Jake Counne, founder and CEO, Wilder Fields, leads tour of indoor
vertical farm technology.

In keeping with its commitment to social responsibility, Wilder Fields will use clean energy to power its farm and make efficient use of water purchased from Calumet City.

“Wilder Fields’ dedication to the environment and community goes beyond repurposing buildings,” said Henry Pierce, ComEd senior economic development specialist. “By taking advantage of the ComEd Energy Efficiency program, Wilder Fields saves energy and money that can be used to focus on what matters—sustainably growing food and creating jobs for the community.”

“Wilder Fields did not require re-piping or any other special accommodations,” explained Gerry Surufka, deputy water commissioner for Calumet City. “And thanks to the efficiency of the company’s system, which uses small drips of precisely measured water, we do not anticipate any need to increase the water supply to this former Super Target.” Due to its unique use of technological breakthroughs, Wilder Fields requires 95 percent less water than traditional farming methods.

The Calumet City location is the first commercial-scale Wilder Fields operation, a project currently valued at an estimated $50 million, according to Counne. By using artificial intelligence to apply principles of machine learning to farming, Counne and his visionary team built a system that continually monitors the plants’ health and growing environment, supplying light, water and nutrients as needed while reducing human contact.

“I consider our Wilder Fields team to be true problem-solvers,” said Counne, who focuses on rehabilitating abandoned big-box stores to help revitalize the communities where they are situated. “We take nothing for granted and continue to challenge many of the accepted ways of building and running a vertical farm. We already have engineered some incredibly cost-effective and elegant solutions for some very expensive problems.”

Even as the Calumet City location ramps up to full capacity, Wilder Fields currently produces its tantalizing array of flavorful greens on a smaller scale, available at Dom’s Kitchen & Market and at Local Markets Food in Bucktown.

By early 2022, its produce will be sold at supermarkets and served at restaurants within a 100-mile radius, eliminating the long-distance hauling that affects freshness and curtails shelf life, and reducing Wilder Fields’ carbon footprint. An onsite retail store also will give Calumet City residents and others nearby access to fresh, healthy produce.

For more information, visit www.WilderFields.com.

 

Photos by Marc Monaghan.

Tour An IGS Vertical Farm

Vertical farming offers a progressive, modern way to complement traditional farming methods so that the planet can sustain an ever-increasing demand for food. As farmers and other growers put greater emphasis on sustainable food security and surety of supply chain, vertical farming is being recognised as an increasingly valuable way to diversify and drive efficiency.

Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor IGS’ innovative approach has sustainability and environmental consideration at its core. The goal is to reduce the amount of energy required, providing economic and productivity benefits by reducing power and labour costs whilst growing consistently high-quality produce to demand at the point of consumption.

The precision-controlled IGS system has been designed specifically to address some of the core challenges facing the vertical farming sector including economic viability and energy consumption. This is widely considered as a fundamental component in overcoming the global food security challenges we face in a changing climate with a growing population.

At IGS, we have solved the top challenges facing vertical farming:

  • Power and labour costs: With our patented three-phase power and automation platform, we have significantly reduced energy and labour costs.
  • Water scarcity: Our closed-loop irrigation system reduces water consumption considerably compared to open field and greenhouse farming. Lettuce for example needs 1L of water in an IGS farm vs 20L in a greenhouse and 250L in a traditional field.
  • Productivity: Our patented HVAC and modular fertigation systems deliver greater uniformity and is up to 15x more efficient in yield/footprint over glasshouses and polytunnels.

The level of control, depth of data capture and the ongoing software development undertaken by IGS all combine to deliver a system capable of future-proofing global food supplies.

Interested in learning more about vertical farming through IGS? Click here to take a virtual tour of the IGS Crop Research Centre located at the James Hutton Institute – Scotland’s largest scientific research centre and one of the biggest in the United Kingdom.

Netled Signs €15 Million Contract With Oh My Greens

Indoor Ag-Con 2021 Exhibitor Netled and Oh My Greens (OMG) have signed a contract for a three-year investment programme that will see Netled deliver its Vera vertical farm to OMG, a Swedish supplier of potted herbs. The contract was signed in June 2021 and is worth a total of 15 million euros over three years. The contract also includes a five-year maintenance and cultivation consultancy service, and is estimated to be one of the largest turn-key technology deals specifically between technology provider and farm operator in the indoor agriculture market to date.Indoor AG-Con 2021 Exhibitor Netled Signs Contract

The first delivery for the project is under way and is valued at 3.2 million euros; it is due in Q2 of 2022. After commissioning, Netled will continue to provide technical and consultancy services while OMG will focus on producing and supplying vegetables to retailers in Stockholm.

OMG is a farm operator company providing consumers with potted herbs, and has ambitions to achieve major market share in Sweden by the end of the investment programme.

OMG is part of Applied Value Group, a Swedish-American investment, management consultancy, and social impact firm. OMG operates in Sweden together with its sister company, Bake My Day (BMD). BMD is a 25 million USD revenue company serving 800 customers with daily deliveries including around 400 grocery stores.

“We considered 17 different vertical farming technology providers and came to the conclusion that, in terms of its technology, know-how, and delivery capabilities, Netled is years ahead of the competition.” says CEO of OMG, Moses Isik.

“The cooperation with OMG and its sister company, BMD, creates a huge opportunity for Netled to increase its market presence in Sweden. It also solidifies our position as the global leader in vertical farming technology.” says CEO of Netled, Niko Kivioja.

Learn more here.

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