Inside a bright greenhouse about an hour outside Dallas, workers are handing off plants during operations at Eden Green Technology's latest facility in Cleburne. The company operates two greenhouses and has broken ground on two more at its Cleburne campus, where the indoor facilities are meant to shelter their portion of the food supply from climate change while using less water and land.
The industry churn doesn't bother Jacob Portillo, a grower with Eden Green, who directs a plant health team and monitors irrigation, nutrients, and other factors related to crop needs. "The fact that other people are failing and other people are succeeding, that's going to happen in any industry you go to, but specifically for us, I think that especially as sustainable as we're trying to be, the sustainable competitors I think are going to start winning," he said.
Tom Kimmerer, a plant physiologist who taught at the University of Kentucky, has tracked indoor farming alongside his research into the growth of plants both outdoors and inside. He said his first thought on vertical farm startups — especially those heavily reliant on artificial light — was, "Boy, this is a dumb idea" — mainly due to high energy costs.
But Kimmerer thinks there are better ways to provide food locally and extend the growing season — outdoors. He pointed to the organic farmstand-oriented Elmwood Stock Farm outside Lexington, Kentucky, which can grow tomatoes and greens the whole year using tools like high tunnels, also known as hoop houses — greenhouse-like arches that shelter crops while still being partially open to the outdoors.
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