Hydroponic Farming Startup Wants to Build a Vertical Farm in Every Major City on the Planet

Hydroponic Farming Startup Wants to Build a Vertical Farm in Every Major City Worldwide
iStock/darwel

A Silicon Valley hydroponic farming startup called Plenty plans to build an indoor farm outside of every major city in the world. Its next target is a farm just outside of Seattle; the company says that the farm will begin producing local greens in the middle of next year.

“Seattle’s emphasis on delicious, healthy food and energy and water efficiency makes the area a natural fit for our next Plenty farm,” said Matt Barnard, CEO and co-founder of Plenty, in a press release. “At nearly 100,000 square feet, Seattle will be home to our first full scale farm and help set the standard by which our global farm network makes locally-grown, backyard-quality produce accessible to everyone.”

The new farm is expected to produce 4.5 million pounds of greens annually.

The company’s first field-scale farm is located in San Francisco and is slated to start delivering produce locally by the end of this year.

In July, the company received $200 million in funding to further this project from investors including Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions.

Plenty plans to build a total of around 500 hydroponic farms around the world: one for every city of more than 1 million inhabitants. The farms will be placed just outside of the city limits next to distribution centers, in order to reduce the amount of time that produce spends in transit.

Plenty farms use 20-foot vertical towers to grow its produce, a distinct characteristic as compared to the horizontal shelves used by many other vertical farming companies. This setup allows the farms to take advantage of gravity to pull the mineral-rich feeding solution down through the towers. The high-tech farms use computers to regulate moisture and light exposure via LED light installations.

“Part of what has convinced investors that Plenty has a shot is the radically declining costs of LED lighting,” explains Vox. “The efficiency of LEDs puts Plenty on par with conventional agriculture, carbon-wise, at least for some crops, at least when distribution impacts are taken into account.”

The company is currently focusing on leafy greens and herbs, but it has plans to expand to other crops including strawberries and cucumbers in the future.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.