Feeding the future: World’s largest vertical farm going up in Newark
The world's largest vertical farm is expected to begin production in September, and it's all happening right here in New Jersey.
The 70,000 square-foot facility, a former steel mill in Newark, should be able to pump out nearly 2 million pounds of leafy greens on an annual basis.
The facility also serves as the headquarters of AeroFarms, which has had its hands in the vertical farming industry since the middle of last decade. The company hosts three other locations in Newark.
With the vertical approach, food production occurs in layers, stacked towards the ceiling.
"That allows us to have a tremendous amount of production - 75 times that of a field farmer," said AeroFarms CEO David Rosenberg.
In the meantime, the process uses zero pesticides, zero soil and zero sunlight.
LED lights create a specific recipe for each plant, giving the greens the spectrum they need and stripping away the spectrum they don't.
Taking place of the soil is a cloth medium made of recycled materials. And the company says its technique uses 95 percent less water than field farming. Water is delivered on a closed-loop system; whatever water the roots don't absorb, they get another pass at.
According to Rosenberg, response from the community has been great. Their products are sold at supermarkets in the New York Metro area.
"We even have some people writing us letters, saying how great our kale, our watercress, our arugula is," Rosenberg said. "I don't know about you, but I've never met anyone who wrote a letter about their salads."
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at Dino.Flammia@townsquaremedia.com