New York puts down roots as urban farming hub

New York is putting roots down as a hub of a new agricultural revolution: urban farming.

Jeffrey Landau, director of business development at Brooklyn-based Agritecture Consulting estimates the global value of the vertical farming market will rise to about $6.4bn by 2023, from $403m in 2013, with almost half that attributed to growth in the US. The company provides consulting services are designed to help entrepreneurs, developers, and cities plan and launch successful agritecture, urban agriculture, vertical farming, and local food system projects. 

Local business is thriving. Oishii vertically farms the much-prized Japanese Omakase strawberry year-round in New York.  Farm One produces more than 200 products, including 34 edible flowers. In the Alexandria Center for Life Science in Manhattan, Riverpark Farm is producing fresh Atomic red carrots, Shunkyo radishes, Red Russian Kale, New Orchid watermelons and more from its 15,000-square-foot farm. 

Square Roots grows the world’s best basil in shipping containers in Brooklyn. Using seeds from Genoa, Italy, the containers replicate that city’s daylight hours, humidity, and Co2 levels, with the plants fed hydroponically in nutrient-rich water.

Indoor farming ensures locally grown, quick-to-market, fresh produce that can be harvested year-round and is free of pesticides and not affected by harsh weather.

Co-founder Tobias Peggs told the BBC: “Rather than ship food across the world, we ship the climate data and feed it into our operating system. Indoor farming can answer many of the questions being asked by today’s consumers about the provenance, sustainability and health of the food they eat.”

Peggs is an artificial intelligence expert, and one of a number of tech entrepreneurs disrupting the food production sector. Urban farming is growing thanks to advances in the performance of lower cost LED lighting, and innovations in robotics and AI.

Square Roots was founded with investor Kimball Musk (Elon’s brother) two years ago. It has already signed a deal with one of America’s big distribution companies, Gordon Food Service, to locate herb-growing containers at some of its 200 warehouses.

In neighbouring New Jersey, AeroFarms, a producer of lettuce and other leafy greens, raised $100m, including from Ingka Group, Ikea’s parent company. 

Bowery Farming, also in New Jersey raised $95m in a 2018 funding round backed by Google Ventures and Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi, bringing its total funding to $122.5m. Bowery runs industrial-sized farms in its urban warehouses. Its proprietary operating system (OS) controls light, adjusts water nutrients and takes camera images of each plant to monitor its health. Artificial intelligence is constantly learning and predicting how to produce the best quality product.

The City of New York has developed a portal, NYC Urban Agriculture, created by the Department of City Planning, NYC Parks, and the Department of Small Business Services to inform businesses, property owners, and the public at large about opportunities and resources in the sector.


(via BBC, Agritecture, SmartCitiesDive, NYC.Gov)