Indoor vertical farmer AeroFarms has broken ground on its second commercial indoor vertical farm, which will be located in Danville-Pittsylvania County, Va., in close proximity to more than 1,000 food retailers in the region, providing access to about 50 million people within a day’s drive.
Expected to be complete and operational in second-quarter 2022, the next-generation Model 5 farm will expand its leafy greens business to the Mid-Atlantic region with brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce partners, building upon existing relationships that include Whole Foods Market, ShopRite, Baldor, Amazon Fresh and FreshDirect, AeroFarms said in a release. And at 136,000 square feet, it will be the largest in the world and advance its leadership in plant science and technology.
“The science, technology and innovation that underpin our platform allows us to drive superior unit economics and scale up our business to deliver on our mission of growing the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity,” said David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms. “We are excited to break ground on our new farm, expand our retail presence in the region and bring our exceptional, great tasting products to more customers.”
The farm will feature AeroFarms’ proprietary and cutting-edge agSTACK technology, creating a fully connected and digitally controlled farm that integrates hardware, automation, intelligent controls and sensors; machine learning; machine vision; supervisory control and data acquisition; and manufacturing execution systems. This allows AeroFarms’ engineers, plant scientists and programmers to gather insights about its 26 crop turns per year and apply these learnings for the continuous improvement of its farms, which the company said yield annual productivity up to 390 times greater than traditional field farming, using up to 95% less water and zero pesticides.
Elected officials from Pittsylvania County and the city of Danville, along with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Bettina Ring and other state and community leaders, joined AeroFarms representatives for a groundbreaking ceremony April 29.
“Innovation and new technologies have always been the driving forces behind the success of Virginia’s largest private sector industry: agriculture,” Ring said in a release. “By choosing to establish their largest production facility to date here in the Commonwealth, AeroFarms is ensuring that Virginia is a leader in indoor vertical farming."