Huge Indoor Vertical Farm to Serve Food Desert
The agriculture startup Plenty Unlimited Inc. is building an indoor vertical farm in the South Los Angeles suburb of Compton to provide jobs and fresh produce to the historical “food desert” and surrounding areas. Traditional farms are usually only able to harvest crops a few times a year, but because Plenty’s hydroponic farms are free of the limitations of seasonal changes, weather conditions, pests and natural disasters, they can produce food year-round. The crops are cultivated in a clinically sanitary environment with full personal protective equipment for staff, as well as robots to do much of the picking. The first time produce is touched by human hands is when the consumer opens the package.
Plenty’s project condenses 700 acres of farmland into a 95,000-square-foot warehouse. Its first vertical farm opened in South San Francisco in 2018, and it maintains a research and development farm in Laramie, Wyoming. By building farms vertically, healthy, quality produce can be grown without harming the environment, especially in urban areas, where land is limited and food insecurity may be widespread. In addition to the vertical plant towers, Plenty uses LED lighting and automation to plant, feed and harvest crops. The warehouses grow plants faster and with more nutritional density with no need for pesticides, using a fraction of the water required by traditional farming.