UAE: “Growing in soil is more expensive, but the plant is so much better”

“Almost everything sold in stores is grown hydroponically, but we are growing in soil which makes New Leaf one of the farms that are truly contributing to a clean and highly nutritious food supply,” says Adam Pitts, Founder of vertical farm New Leaf.

Farm manager Ian Geronimo, and New Leaf founder Adam Pitts 

New Leaf is a 715m2-vertical farm in Dubai that sells its leafy greens, microgreens, and edible flowers to hundreds of restaurants, specialty shops, and supermarkets. Adam began his indoor farming journey roughly twenty years ago due to his ailing father’s interest in the health benefits of cresses.

Since then, Adam founded New Leaf and began cultivating various microgreen species and striving to improve consumers’ health. By now, the company supplies over 58 different varieties of microgreens and edible flowers. 

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“We started working with many cancer specialists and doctors who believe in the unseen health benefits of plants. Our restaurant clients have also been using our products to produce power shots, smoothies, etc.,” says Adam.

Soil as the pillar for nutritional quality
Rather than using hydroponic or aeroponic methods, New Leaf grows its products in a soil mixture developed over the past twenty years. As Adam explains, the soil makes all the difference between New Leaf’s products and those from other vertical farms.

“Using soil means we have a lot of beneficial organisms which help the plants to take up nutrients. Our superfood microgreens contain up to 83 different nutrients; without organisms, this wouldn’t be possible,” Adam explains.

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A self-made mixture of soil is put into crates, whereas after seeds are spread out

Once the crop has been harvested, the soil and plant waste are recovered and composted to encourage the growth of beneficial microbes further and eventually be reused for future crops. While soil-based growing presents challenges with automation, labor requirements, and government funding, Adam explains that consumers do understand the difference and appreciate the high quality of soil-grown greens.  

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“We are in the desert, so it is very remarkable that we can grow the best microgreens in this climate. With indoor farming, you can go anywhere and grow in the middle of the city, producing amazing products,” says Adam.

For more information:
Adam Pitts, Founder 
Ian Geronimo, Farm Manager 
New Leaf 

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