"As we look forward to 2024, I am thankful for new partnerships that have breathed life back into Planted Detroit and will allow us to focus on farming. We have Lipari Foods sourcing our salad ingredients, JLM Manufacturing assembling and packing our salads, and multiple amazing food companies distributing our product," says Tom Adamczyk, Founder and CEO of Planted Detroit, a vertical farm based in Michigan.
Back in July 2023, Planted Detroit mentioned that it was shutting down operations for an unforeseen time. Yet, thankfully there's light at the end of the tunnel as Tom gave a brief update on the current situation.
"As a start-up, in a volatile industry, making mistakes and learning from them is part of the growth process. I have made many mistakes, but one in particular has crippled Planted Detroit. Four years ago, right before the global pandemic reaped havoc on the world and in particular, our food system, I contracted an automotive company to build an automated growing system. We were to rely on this system to prove profitability and large-scale success."
Instead, the team spent three years putting bandaids on the situation: Building alternative grow systems and software, and hiring more people than originally anticipated. Unfortunately, that turned Planted Detroit into an unscalable, unprofitable, 100% vertically integrated farm which, according to Tom, distracted the team from its core competency of farming and striving towards his vision of a salad on every table.
Tom continues, "5 years ago I started Planted Detroit with the belief I could have a positive impact on many people's lives. We built a world-class facility in Detroit, the best farm in Michigan. Unfortunately, I have had to shut the farm down twice."
Apologizing for the negative effects that might have had on employees, Tom apologizes for the situation. A large number of employees have been rehired and have been focusing on improving yields, streamlining operations, and identifying efficiencies throughout the rollercoaster of the last several months.
Moving on, Planted Detroit has set new strategic partnerships and will distribute its products to Carmela Foods, Lipari Foods, La Grasso Produce, and Frog Holler. On top of that, the vertical farm has also partnered with FULFLLD (a partner of Sweetgreen) to make door-to-door delivery happen in the city again.
"I am thankful for the customers, former employees, local businesses, and community members who have expressed their love for Planted Detroit. The future is not certain for Planted Detroit or vertical farming as an industry, but I am confident that its necessity to the world remains certain. My hope in reflecting on past mistakes is to not drown myself in the negativity and regrets, but remain diligent and continue to find ways to provide these fresh, nutritious, and flavorful products to the world."