October 3, 2023

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How vertical farming is changing the way we grow food

2 min read

Greenswell Growers, in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, are producing leafy greens in less than 30 days from seed to packaged product.

WASHINGTON — A fully automated production line at Greenswell Growers is allowing the Goochland County company to grow food year-round using 85% less water than traditional farming. 

During the day, Mother Nature’s sunlight helps the plants grow, and at night, supplementing with electricity all indoors…eliminating the uncertainty of erratic weather in our changing climate.

“I think the biggest threat that you have is for traditional farmers is whether is it’s too much rain, too little rain, too much sun, too little sun,” explains President of Greenswell Growers, Carl Gupton.  “We’re able to control those exact things down to the nth degree inside of our greenhouse.”

RELATED: New report encourages ‘regenerative practices’ for local farmers

This technology is nothing new across the pond since European countries don’t have hundreds of miles of farmland like we do in the United States.

“We brought over basically what we think to be the best in class,” Gupton said. “They’re about 30 years ahead of us in this space. So we were able to work through a lot of their, I guess, problems and solutions that they came up with. And we’re able to figure out what works best for us to grow the best products that we can.”

Right now Greenswell Growers produces 700,000 pounds of leafy greens annually but has plans to expand their production to three times its current size to meet product demand and add more vegetables to the menu.

“What we’re seeing today is our agricultural land is shrinking, but our population is growing,” Gupton said.  “And we have to come up with smarter, better ways to feed the masses to feed our population. And we think that getting healthy food in the food system is a big thing.”

Central and Southwestern Virginia is becoming a hub for indoor farming. 

California-based “Plenty Unlimited Inc.”  already broke ground on a 120-acre campus near Richmond. When complete, it will be the largest indoor vertical farm in the world. It’s expected to begin rolling out produce later this year or early 2024.

RELATED: ‘It’s a long-term process’ | How growing food indoors may fix Arlington’s empty office space issue

RELATED: Climate change ratchets up the stress on farmworkers on the front lines of a warming Earth

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2023-08-17 22:28:26

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