These ur­ban farm­ers build in­door tow­ers out of salad greens.

Inc. (USA) - - SPREAD THE WEALTH - KEVIN J. RYAN

Ver­ti­cal farm­ing startup AeroFarms grows crops in­doors, where it can con­trol light, tem­per­a­ture, and hu­mid­ity. It doesn’t use soil or 95 per­cent of the wa­ter usu­ally re­quired to pro­duce greens; in­stead, AeroFarms plants its kale and arugula in a pro­pri­etary cloth ma­te­rial and sprays their roots with a nu­tri­ent-rich mist. The cloth was in­vented by Cor­nell pro­fes­sor Ed Har­wood, who joined forces with David Rosen­berg and Marc Oshima to co-found the Ne­wark, New Jer­sey– based com­pany in 2011. AeroFarms, which has raised more than $100 mil­lion, sells its salad greens to gro­cers in­clud­ing Whole Foods and FreshDirect. It says its fa­cil­i­ties are nearly 400 times more pro­duc­tive per square foot, by out­put, than a tra­di­tional farm, thanks to ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, which helps the com­pany con­tin­u­ously re­fine its grow­ing process. So the founders hire for more than just green thumbs. “We look for prob­lem solvers,” Rosen­berg says. “There’s an el­e­ment of: Let’s hire bril­liant peo­ple, and then we’ll find a place for them.”

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