AeroFarms, a Newark-based Certified B Corporation and leader in indoor vertical farming, announced its plan to expand to the Midwest region as part of a project with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the St. Louis Controlled Environment Agriculture Coalition (STLCEA) to demonstrate innovative strategies to minimize the environmental footprint of indoor agriculture. The greater St. Louis MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was selected as a key market and innovation hub for indoor vertical farming and AgTech development.
The 150,000 square foot indoor vertical farm, AeroFarms’ largest to date, will be strategically located in the greater St. Louis area to provide AeroFarms with rapid access to retail partners throughout the Midwest. AeroFarms will deploy its latest generation of proprietary growing technology at the farm, which will generate yields up to 390 times greater productivity per square foot annually, compared to traditional field farming, while using up to 95% less water and zero pesticides.
AeroFarms starts by selecting the most flavorful varietals of leafy greens, then perfects them in its proprietary indoor vertical farms for optimal quality, color, nutrition, texture, taste, and yield. AeroFarms has trademarked Vertical Farming, Elevated Flavor™ to highlight for consumers how its food is grown, as well as the key growing benefits that AeroFarms uniquely brings to the market, setting a new culinary standard with millions of data points to prove it. AeroFarms leafy greens are available at major retail and foodservice customers including Walmart, Whole Foods Market, ShopRite, Amazon Fresh, FreshDirect, and Baldor Specialty Foods.
“Customer demand for our award-winning greens has been accelerating across the United States, and this latest farm expansion will allow us to serve our retail partners and their customers throughout the Midwest,” said David Rosenberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of AeroFarms. “Farm development in the Midwest is part of our business model based on our proven success in the Northeast, and as a Certified B Corporation, we are equally excited to be able to create a more sustainable food system in the St. Louis area that has incredibly deep roots in agriculture and is home to an amazing AgTech community as well.”
The STLCEA Coalition was convened by WWF and consists of more than 70 key stakeholders including Greater St. Louis, Inc., Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, University of Arizona – Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, and Schnuck Markets, Inc. In 2020, the Coalition solicited proposals to bring an innovative farm to help advance environmental and social objectives to the St. Louis MO-IL MSA, where sites in both Missouri and Illinois remain under consideration by AeroFarms. After evaluating proposals against a complex matrix, the Coalition had selected AeroFarms due to its proven track record and history of innovation and technology.
“Indoor farming solutions can help us ensure a more resilient and environmentally responsible food system in the future, through decreased water use, reduction of soil erosion and use of pesticides, and lowered food loss and waste, but there are still challenges to overcome,” said Julia Kurnik, director of Innovation Startups at World Wildlife Fund. “With this project, WWF and the STLCEA Coalition will work with AeroFarms to develop solutions and make sure that as this industry continues to grow, it does so in a way that supports the health of the planet and local communities. We anticipate that the lessons learned from this project can be shared widely, encouraging innovation and replication in cities around the world.”
With 2.8 million people, the St. Louis metro area represents an excellent opportunity for farm development to bring healthy food to an urban population year-round, and given its strategic location is the “gateway” to food retailers throughout the broader Midwest. There is also an incredibly deep science community with more than 14,500 AgTech and bioscience jobs, and more than 1,000 PhDs working in plant science — one of the highest concentrations in the world.
“For 20 years, St. Louis has cultivated its AgTech assets, shaping them into a world-renowned industry cluster that grows start-ups and sustains developed businesses, supporting them all with research, funding and thoughtful collaboration,” said Steve Johnson, chief business attraction officer, Greater St. Louis, Inc., and president, AllianceSTL. “AeroFarms represents the next generation of this industry, and we welcome them to the community and look forward to a new phase of growth for the company and for the region.”
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