What started as a humble tabletop farm at the University of Virginia has since evolved into a major company to watch in the vertical farming space, particularly when it comes to the software piece of the process. Babylon Micro farms has over the last few years garnered quite a bit of attention for its controlled-environment farms the company now licenses to hospitals, cafeterias, and other foodservice operations.
Based in Charlottesville, Virginia (though soon moving HQ to Richmond, VA) Babylon makes a “plug-and-play” system for hydroponic farming that automates much of the growth process and makes controlled-environment farming more accessible. The company raised a $2.3 million seed round in January of this year and, its current product is a standalone farming unit that grows leafy greens.
Of late, however, the bulk of founders Alexander Olesen and Graham Smith’s focus is on software: namely, using it to automate the growing process, which removes the more complicated aspects of vertical farming that would be off-putting to the average user. “Growing is a cumbersome experience for many,” Olesen explained to me over the phone this week. “Removing the friction of the user experience and combining that will some of the remote management [will make] smaller forms of vertical farming possible.”
Where the average person to try and build their own high-tech grow system, it would require significant expertise in horticulture, hardware infrastructure, and software development. To name just a few examples, that would include calculating one’s one LED light recipe (which takes the place of sunlight in controlled-environment ag), controlling the temperature of the farm, and understanding how much nutrient to feed each crop and when to do that. Every day would require a certain amount of trial and error for every plant variety.
Read more at The Spoon (Jennifer Marston)