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Partnership to build and sell autonomous growing systems in shipping containers

Land Betterment and anu have entered into a commercialization partnership to build and sell autonomous fresh produce growing systems in ekō Solutions' customized up-cycled 20-foot shipping containers.

Led by President Peter Rodriguez, ekō Solutions is ramping up the production of Pure Produce Container Farms. Meanwhile, anu, under the leadership of co-founders Scott Massey CEO and Ivan Ball CTO, along with VP of Research Dr. Sven Nelson, leverages its advanced Rotary Aeroponics technology. This system, which simplifies farming and requires no prior experience, is enhanced by nearly $2 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and other state and federal agencies.

The anu technology, developed over the past seven years and validated in various residential, educational, and humanitarian settings, features user-friendly and sustainable, compostable seed pods that offer a seamless, "Keurig-like" farming experience. Together, anu and ekō Solutions enable the autonomous growth of fresh produce in a controlled environment, using less energy and space, thereby empowering communities and institutions with sustainable agricultural solutions.

Kirk Taylor and Scott Massey

"We are very excited to bring this partnership to the marketplace and together, we can enable users to grow fresh produce near or at the point of consumption on a smaller footprint. Potential markets served include, food desserts, local and national grocery chains and educational programs," said Kirk Taylor, Co-Founder and President of Land Betterment. "Our rigorous R&D revealed that anu's vertical aeroponic towers with rotary processes not only increase yields but also enhance power efficiencies. The anu near-autonomous operations minimize human involvement. Their comprehensive IP and manufacturing expertise made them the ideal partner," concluded Kirk.

"Global food insecurity is on the rise and according to the United Nations, approximately 13% of the food produced for humans globally was lost between harvest and retail. Food loss is often a result of fresh crops spoilage that never makes it off the farm. Other issues might arise due to poor-quality crops, inefficient supply chains or harvest disruption which leaves fresh produce to spoil. This doesn't even consider populations who are unable to consistently access fresh, nutritionally dense food at markets or stores," said Ivan Ball, anu Co-Founder.

Pure Produce container farms

Indoor farming is transforming environmental and societal sustainability with Pure Produce, which offers superior nutrition, flavor, and food safety far beyond that of organic produce. Farming with anu's technology slashes water usage by 90%, completely eliminates the need for pesticides and preservatives, and significantly cuts carbon emissions. By replacing traditional produce supply chains and centralized farming with modular, up-cycled shipping containers, anu reduces energy and construction-related scope 3 emissions, emissions that come from activities that an organization indirectly affects in its value chain but does not own or control. Moreover, anu's advanced compostable seed pods virtually eliminate potent greenhouse gasses like methane and nitrous oxide by preventing fertilizer runoff and reducing landfill waste.

Following significant funding-a $194,197 NSF TECP grant and a $200,000 Indiana Smart Manufacturing Grant, anu is scaling up automated seed pod production. The first Pure Produce Container has been delivered to anu headquarters in Evansville, Indiana, with plans to donate surplus harvests to local food desert relief programs.

Scott Massey, recently named to Forbes 30 under 30 and leader of his team in the victorious Agrinovus 2024 HungerTech Challenge, emphasized the broader impacts of their work: "This venture not only represents a major commercial milestone but also a significant step towards addressing the nutritional deficiencies driving our nation's $2 trillion healthcare expenditure, which doesn't even account for lost worker productivity. Our technology enables communities, especially those affected in food deserts, to achieve self-sufficiency in production of locally grown nutrient rich fresh produce. A lack of nutrition is actually the major factor in many common health issues throughout the country. Pure Produce gives new meaning to the idiom 'Let healthy food be thy medicine." He added, "Our partnership with Land Betterment will be instrumental in alleviating this global problem. We are excited to implement our aeroponic technology-aeroponics is a form of hydroponics developed by NASA for growing fresh produce in space that grows food three times faster and uses 90% less water than traditional methods-into Land Betterment's ekō Solutions customized up-cycled shipping containers."

Scott Massey and Ivan Ball, Co-Founders of anu and Purdue Polytechnic Institute graduates, have developed a produce growing technology which allows for nearly autonomous operations, eliminating potential contamination. Not only is there minimal human involvement but there are no risks from weather as all the growing takes place in a controlled environment. With the use of AI, the growing towers can be optimized to maximize increased output. Anu innovations address criticisms of high-power consumption leveled against the traditional controlled-environment agriculture industry. It reduces the total number of LEDs needed to illuminate the aeroponic tower expanding outer plant canopy which reduces energy consumption while improving yield.

For more information:

ekō Solutions

Land Betterment Corporation

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