“At AeroFarms, we believe in growing the best crops possible for the betterment of humanity, whether that be producing crops for direct consumption, developing seeds and genetics or even producing resilient plant stock for indoor or outdoor agriculture. It’s all about where we can have an impact,” says Marc Oshima, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at AeroFarms.
Since its establishment in 2004, AeroFarms has continually reiterated its proprietary technology to optimize crop growth and provide consumers with the highest quality of local produce. Today, AeroFarms is implementing its fifth generation of the technology, called Model 5. According to Marc, this signals the company’s leadership in the vertical farming industry in terms of both technology and plant engineering.
Adding to its four commercial farms, AeroFarms will be launching a commercial farm in Virginia this summer, which will allow the company to serve an even larger footprint extending from the mid-Atlantic to the southern US. The new farm will have a footprint of 140.000 square feet and will showcase the Model 5 technology. Also, the company is expanding one of its major grow rooms at its Newark headquarters for research and development as well as commercial production. Combined with its 55.000-square foot research facility in Abu Dhabi. AeroFarms has grown more that 550 different crops and is keeping its eye on the larger agricultural picture, beyond the walls of the farm.
“We are always looking at where we can add value, whether that be through commercial production, genetic research, postharvest applications, etc. We are very excited about the idea of high-value nurseries to produce more crops to be planted by AeroFarms, other indoor growers and even in the field,” says Marc.
A peek into the farm
To illustrate, AeroFarms announced a multi-year partnership with Cargill in 2021 to identify the optimal growing conditions for the cocoa tree and subsequently optimize productivity to meet the growing demand for cocoa in an environmentally responsible manner. AeroFarms is also developing methods of producing hops and various berry species indoors.
The company has trademarked the phrase “Vertical Farming, Elevated Flavor” to demonstrate its commitment to producing a wide range of high-quality crops that go above and beyond consumers’ expectations. Aside from its retail partners, AeroFarms also provides its products to various high-end restaurants and is continuing its partnership with Singapore Airlines, the latter of which receives AeroFarms’ produce at Newark and John F. Kennedy airports in New Jersey and New York.
CEA Food Safety Coalition’s safety standard 100% implemented
AeroFarms among the eight founding members of CEA Food Safety Coalition, which is comprised of 30+ leaders in controlled environment agriculture and was established in 2019 to represent CEA leafy greens growers in developing appropriate food safety standards and educating consumers about the value of protected agriculture. As the production environment is entirely different between protected agriculture and field agriculture, the CEA Food Safety Coalition works to educate the public about the differences between the two.
In April 2021, the coalition announced its first-ever food safety certification program geared specifically to leafy greens produced in controlled environments. The certification is currently being rolled out and is 100% implemented at both AeroFarms and Bright Farms.
All certificates are displayed on the packaging
“For the first time, consumers will see products on the shelves that have an “Indoor Grown” certificate which will allow them to easily distinguish these from other production schemes. Food safety is top of mind, but so is sustainability,” says Marc.
AeroFarms has also slid into the event space and hosted its inaugural Agtech Innovation Virtual Summit in May 2022 which focused on vertical farming innovation in the MENA region, more specifically on the work that AeroFarms is doing through its AgX research facility in Abu Dhabi.
“We are looking for any way that we can help the industry through our own research, knowledge sharing and partnerships with private and public entities such as the USDA, Global GAP and retail partners. For us, it is above the opportunity to have a big impact immediately and in the long term,” Marc explains.