In the Upward Farms indoor farm, you will see stacks of microgreens, a nutrient-dense crop, growing atop fish tanks — a style of gardening called vertical aquaponics. They are able to avoid the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides by planting in a way that ensures a healthy harvest naturally. Their motto: Celebrate Ecology, Share Abundance.
Upward Farms was founded by CEO Jason Green in 2013, together with construction manager and systems engineer Matt LaRosa and chief technology officer Ben Silverman, with the initial goal of raising tilapia and growing vegetable greens. Their simple approach, which focused on growing vegetables before trying to sell their fish, is what sets them apart from other aquaponic farms that did not last. It is, after all, a tricky market, and until someone has successfully piloted it, it can be difficult to get investor buy-in.
Upward Farms provides their community with microgreens, baby greens, and fish. Whole Foods was their initial retailer, selling packaged, personal-sized microgreen boxes. They recently scaled up their operation in 2020 by opening a new headquarters that expanded their production capacity by over 20%, but Green does not think Upward Farms is the only aquaponics farm with the capacity to expand.
“In the U.S., we’re poised for massive growth in aquaculture,” he says. “The U.S. is the third-largest consumer of seafood in the world, after China and Japan, and we currently import 90% of the seafood we eat.”
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