The founders of AeroFarm are setting up the world’s largest vertical farm inside an abandoned Newark steel mill. The farm will annually produce two million pounds of green leafy veggies.
The futuristic vertical farm will employ the aeroponics technology to grow crops in vertical stacks of beds, without using sunlight, water, or soil. The New Jersey Governer, Chris Christie has already expressed his approval for the project:
“I ate some of the arugula here, it tastes fabulous. No dressing necessary.”
AeroFarm claims that their produce is pesticide and fertiliser free. However, some people, including director of the food studies program at New York University, Carolyn Dmitri, have questioned if the food could really be termed organic, given the lack of soil.
A tiny black door in the downtown Newark opens into an old nightclub. The AeroFarms took over the vividly painted space in 2014 and converted it into an R&D facility. The multicoloured LED lights and computer screens lined workspace is a far cry from the conventional concept of farming with vast fields of crops dotted with the farmers toiling away under the sun.
The company claims that it can increase the yield up to 70 percent without employing pesticides or fertilisers. It must be noted that the produce is compared with the area covered by the verticle beds, and it has repeatedly been pointed out that a traditional farm of this size would cost more than $30m.
AeroFarm has successfully grown more than 250 kinds of leafy greens including kale, arugula, and spinach. The facility houses a 20-feet tall growing machine, with a stack of growing beds nearly 20-feet long. Columns of LEDs above each plant bed provide light energy to the young saplings. The roots of the plants develop in the nutrient-rich mist.
The farm will bring new jobs to the economically depressed NJ neighbourhood as well chances for a promising public-private partnership, PPP. AeroFarm is dedicated to its mission of mainstreaming the “green agricultural practices” that could produce more crops without jeopardising the environment. They, along with the other proponents of vertical farming, think of these latest agricultural trends as the “Third Green Revolution.”
AeroFarm believes that vertical farming is the best way to tackle the food shortages across the world, as the population bomb continues to tick. Pretty cool, huh?