Newark-based AeroFarms said Aug. 12 it plans to expand to the Midwest 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 150,000-square-foot indoor vertical farm – AeroFarms’ largest to date – will be strategically located in the greater St. Louis area to afford 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.
“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, in a prepared statement. “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 metropolitan statistical area, where sites in both Missouri and Illinois remain under consideration by AeroFarms.
“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.”