US: Minnesota vertical farm has ambitious indoor produce plans

The lettuces and herbs at Living Greens Farm, bursting from holes in towering plastic racks, are nourished by Christmas-colored grow lights and sprays of nutrient-rich mist. The leafy greens never touch a speck of dirt and will be chopped and bagged into grocery store salad kits moments after harvest.

This aeroponic produce-growing operation churns out produce from a small office park warehouse on the outskirts of town. It may feel like a sterile science lab, but the company's chief executive is quick to argue that growing vegetables inside doesn't make you anything less than a farmer.

"We see ourselves as farmers first, understanding the plant and what it requires, using technology to enable growers to get the most out of their genetic potential," said George Pastrana.

Living Greens is among a cadre of Midwest vegetable growers pushing fast and hard to establish and scale indoor agriculture, a burgeoning industry driven by environmental, health, and economic concerns.

Like any emerging or disruptive technology, many will try and some will fail as methods are perfected, but significant investor interest suggests possibilities beyond a niche market.

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