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Farming in the Kitchen

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Touch the Soil News #763 (photo courtesy of GrowChef) Across the Atlantic in Eastern Europe is the small nation of Estonia. It’s about twice the size of Vermont with only 1.3 million people. A small group of entrepreneurs from Estonia want to change how food at home works. Called the GrowChef, their invention is designed to let you harvest a modest plant of lettuce every day. Through a combination of automatic internal water and nutrient distribution, led grow lights and 51 slots to grow produce you can do it all in a very small footprint. User receive can order small “plugs” that contain the seeds of the greens you want…

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Indoor Farm Tech Progress Is Amazing

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Touch the Soil News #747 (The two rooftop greenhouses of Lufa Farms – photos courtesy of Lufa Farms) The cost of farming indoors is no small endeavor – cost of facilities, power costs, vertical frameworks, lighting and technology, harvesting, packing and marketing. Undaunted by the challenges, there is hardly a day that goes by that a story doesn’t come across our desks about young people with degrees in engineering, computer technology, sales and finance that want to get into the food business – Lufa Farms is one of those examples and illustrates how far indoor tech farming has come. http://corpo.lufa.com/en/index.html Organized in 2011, Lufa Farms is pushing the envelope of…

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AeroFarms Gets More Money

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Touch the Soil News #715 (photo – artists rendition of AeroFarms operations – photo courtesy of AeroFarms) Aeroponics is a form of indoor vertical agriculture that raises leafy greens and herbs without sunlight, soil or pesticides. AeroFarms has a patented technology that grows plants on a reusable cloth medium. As the plant pushes roots through the cloth, the roots are then misted with water and nutrients. AeroFarms recently received more venture capital money – $34 million to be exact. This brings the total venture capital funding for AeroFarms to over $130 million since 2014. AeroFarms presently has nine (9) indoor farms, selling fresh greens to the food service sector and…

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Raising Food – Indoors or Outdoors?

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Touch the Soil News #639 Over the past few years, the concept of indoor/vertical farming has taken root. They are in old warehouses with growing trays stacked 30 to 40 feet high, in recycled freight containers and specially retrofitted greenhouses. Whatever the configuration, it comes down to what is called CEA – controlled environment agriculture. So far, the consensus is that indoor CEA farming is expensive – often times more expensive than farming in the field outdoors. The cost of indoor farming includes expensive inputs such as the building, energy, infrastructure for water distribution and lighting. Despite the cost of indoor farming, pioneers are working the pieces to make it…

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LED Lights & Fresh Greens

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Touch the Soil News #422 Quartz News reports that New Jersey-based AeroFarms is shipping arugula, kale and spinach from a farm inside a former Newark nightclub to grocery shelves at the same price as Earthbound – one of the largest organic farms in California. AeroFarms is just putting the finishing touches on what will be the world’s largest vertical farm (feature photo courtesy of AeroFarms – http://aerofarms.com/ Growing food indoors has been an economic challenge, considering the costs of buildings, growing platforms, heating and lights – LED lights to be specific. LED lights represent one of the biggest costs for indoor farming enterprises. Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy released…

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Philips (lighting manufacturer) Challenges Food Production Approach

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Touch the Soil News #396 Producer of all things light bulbs, Philips, built one of the world’s largest research facilities in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Philips is experimenting and testing all different ranges of light waves and their impact on increasing food production yields. Alongside the technological advances in lighting, Philips is also testing growing mediums, plant adaption and indoor controlled environments. It is no accident that Philips chose the city of Eindhoven as the location of the facility – which boasts 2,500 square feet of controlled growing surface for its research. In 2011, the Eindhoven region was named the world’s Most Intelligent Community – due to its focus on fostering…

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Vertical Farming – Plant Factories – Controlled Environments

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Touch the Soil News #287 While most folks wait for spring to start gardening, a small number of people – often with significant financial backing – are entering the arena of controlled environment farming. Farming inside is not simple. One must buy buildings, retrofit the interiors, use expensive high-tech lighting, labor, get the right environmental management and on and on. Let’s just say a million dollars does not go far if you want to commercialize and produce in volume. What the controlled environment farming entrepreneurs are betting on is increasing demand for: Food that is grown consistently Food that is grown locally Food that can be grown year-round Food that…

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Sundrop Farms’ Greenhouses Boggle the Imagination

photo courtesy of Sundrop Farms

Touch the Soil News #210 While the information doesn’t reach mainstream American news, the folks down under (Port Augusta, Australia) are engaged in a big project. Sundrop Farms – a hydroponic greenhouse venture – is in the midst of building a 49.4 acre complex of greenhouses. Sundrop Farms has reached an agreement with Australian supermarket chain “Coles” to supply locally grown, sustainably produced affordable produce. Coles has 750 retail outlets across Australia. Inside a Sundrop Farm tomato greenhouse – the new greenhouses will cover about 2.2 million square feet (photo courtesy of Sundrop Farms) The farming project, called the Port Augusta project, does not utilize the traditional farming cornerstones of…

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Tokyo – a city of 14 million – Attracts Indoor Robotic Lettuce Farm

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Touch the Soil News #205 Recently, Fast Coexist reported on a massive indoor farm in the works in Japan. The farming company “SPREAD” already raises lettuce and supplies some 2,000 stores around Tokyo. The new indoor farm seeks to cut labor through automation and produce food locally for a nation that must import 60 percent of its food. California Lettuce Field – Will high tech start encroaching on traditional soil farming? (photo courtesy of NRCS) Fast Coexist Journalist Adele Peters reports on the plans. Robots will plant lettuce seeds, transplant them, raise them and automatically carry the heads to a packing line where they are readied for local grocery stores.…

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