Indoor Farming in New Jersey Promises Year-Round Local Vegetables

New Jersey, the country’s Garden State, has once again made agricultural news. A Newark farm is supplying the region with fresh local produce; what’s newsworthy is that fact that green leafy vegetables are being grown in a warehouse that was once New Jersey’s largest indoor paintball arena.
A recent article in the New York Times highlights the changes to traditional kale, arugula, and watercress farming made by AeroFarms in its Newark facility (http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2016/06/28/technology/28reuters-new-jersey-vertical-farming.html?_r=0&register=google&mtrref=www.nytimes.com&gwh=341A6CD8DD80E2B2598542AF1137C45C&gwt=pay). Without the use of sunshine or dirt, Aerofarms has been producing marketable plants indoors within a 10-15 day period. (It would take 30-45 days for plants grown conventionally outdoors to reach this state.) According to Aerofarms co-founder Marc Oshima, the Newark facility can produce plants for local markets all year round, cutting down the need to transport vegetables from sunnier states.
Aerofarms’ current building covers 30,000 square feet. The plants are grown in a kind of fabric made from recycled materials. They’re lit by LED lamps and mounted on 80-foot tall metal frames. The setup may be peculiar, but according to Oshima the farm is functioning in an environmentally responsible way, since the plants require no pesticides or chemicals to counteract weeds and fungus. The plants also require only 5% of the water needed by those grown under conventional circumstances, and 50% less fertilizer.
Mr. Oshima is optimistic about Aerofarms’ future, and has announced that his company has plans to set up and develop 25 more indoor farms like the one in Newark.

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