AllWell Greens is an indoor vertical farm that specializes in producing pesticide and herbicide-free Asian Greens in New York. “There is a lack of sustainably grown Asian greens in the current market, and we feel very well positioned to fulfill that demand as we expand. Our background in wholesale and agriculture really gives us an advantage in knowing the pains of growers, what they’re coming up against, and the impact it has on the products, cost, distribution, and logistics. Growing locally in a controlled environment will resolve many of these issues,” says Judy Cari, co-founder of AllWell Greens.
AllWell Greens offers Heritage Asian leafy greens such as Shanghai Bok Choy, Baby White Bok Choy, and Yu Choy. There is a total of six products ready for commercial production, with more varieties in the works.
Founders Judi and John Cari, together with Caleb Raff
The next generation of Asian Greens
Co-founder Judy grew up in the wholesale produce business for over 30+ years and, in 2013, convinced John Cari to give up his cushy financial career to join the wholesale business. Several years later, the duo spun off to create startup AllWell Greens. They went from a co-working space to a Grow Lab and now a commercial facility located in Queens, New York. Together with their Head of Growing Operations, Caleb Raff, they have developed unique growing recipes based on hundreds of grow experiments.
AllWell tested a wide variety of variables in the growing process, focusing on lighting, temperature, and variety. Some crops required testing dozens of different varieties to find the perfect fit, with all results logged in a proprietary database to enable quick analysis of which techniques and changes worked best. Some products grew well after just a few tests, while others took upwards of fifty experiments before they were ready for full-scale production.
Some of their products
“We’ve methodically built our database to shorten the cultivation cycle and make production more sustainable and efficient,” says John. This has allowed them to produce 20 grow cycles per year versus the seasonal two turns on a traditional farm.
On a traditional farm, the pack rate is anywhere between 40%-60% for Asian greens, and here’s where they’ve developed and refined their efficiency, they pack roughly 98% of what they grow. There is very little waste on the farm. Everything unused after the harvest is compostable. The products are then delivered to their partnered retailers within 24 hours.
Since the products are locally and sustainably grown near their consumer base, none of the flavors and nutrients are lost during transportation.
Offering a piece of heritage
Being the 2nd Generation of Taiwanese-Chinese descent, Judy understands how difficult it is to find authentic heritage products outside of urban centers like New York City. AllWell Greens calls them heritage products due to their origins. “There are similarities in what the Asian population consumes cross-culturally, and we are offering them these heritage products that they grew up with. AllWell Greens has a great understanding of cultural nuances, which is key when it comes to the Asian Market,” says Judy.
Expanding to meet demand
Today, the company supplies online and in-store retailers as well as NY-based distributors. At this point, the company cannot keep up with demand given the interest in their products. Recently, the company finished a round of funding to expand and build a larger commercial facility. The company is moving into a 5000 sqft. (465m2) farm in Queens, New York.