February 15, 2017
South San Francisco-based Plenty Inc. plans to redefine farm-to-market via indoor farms in urban markets. The startup’s initial facility, a 51,000-square-foot warehouse by San Francisco Bay’s Oyster Point, could produce as much as three million pounds of leafy greens annually.
The tech entrepreneurs and investors, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt, are turning to advanced growing methods that incorporate LED lights, temperature and moisture sensors, and automated water and nutrient systems. Plenty said it can produce 150 times as much lettuce per-square-foot annually as an outdoor farm, while only using 1% of the water.
Costs of equipment and urban real estate are barriers for indoor farms, though supporters believe the environmental impact reductions are worth pursuing. Plenty is seeking to reduce costs by utilizing larger warehouses on less expensive land outside city centers, and working to improve facility efficiency through machine learning.
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