Ahead of the Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit in Chicago, experts from Plenty, Bowery, Little Leaf Farms, Gotham Greens, Vertical Harvest, Zordi and Four Star Mushrooms give their take on company growth strategies, specialty mushroom varieties, and accessing alternative sources of funding.

Plenty CEO Arama Kukutai shares the developments he’s looking forward to seeing at the company’s new strawberry farm:

“To prove that vertical farming can have a meaningful impact on global food security, our industry has to demonstrate crop diversity. With Plenty’s strawberry farm in Virginia opening later this year, we’ll be showing the path forward for a flexible vertical growing platform that can support a wide variety of crops. We’ll also be introducing more consumers to a flavor-forward crop outside of its season, and hope that as they taste berries with peak-summer flavor in the dead of winter, it will ignite increased consumer interest in vertical farming.”

Bowery Farming’s Senior Director of Public Policy & Social Impact Colin O’Neil highlights how they work with the US government to include CEA in future food production system:

“Bowery is leveraging vertical farming to solve real problems in our food system. I have the privilege of meeting policymakers and stakeholders in Washington, D.C. and across the country and sharing how public policy could be a driver of growth and scale for the indoor farming industry that will position it to provide even more tangible benefits.

Indoor farming is at an important inflection point, and there are several opportunities in the Farm Bill, tax policy, appropriations and other policy areas that could be a catalyst for driving further innovation in U.S. agriculture and making the domestic indoor farming sector more competitive on the global stage.”

Little Leaf Farms, CEO & Founder Paul Sellew gives his take on the CEA industry:

“Despite recent turmoil in the industry, I know that CEA can be a scalable, profitable, and sustainable way to grow produce. At the end of the day, we are a farming company that grows food for consumers to enjoy. I attribute our success to a few things – hiring a team of people who are experts in agriculture, a laser-focus on quality and day-to-day execution, and, overall, delivering a fresher, better tasting, and widely available product to consumers.”  

Gotham Greens CEO & Co-Founder Viraj Puri shares the company’s growth trajectory over the next 12 months:

“At Gotham Greens, we’ve spent the last year opening three new high-tech greenhouses in Texas, Georgia and Colorado, bringing our national footprint to 1.8 million square feet across 13 greenhouses. We’ll continue to use our proven greenhouse operations and large scale to grow fresh sustainably grown produce closer to where people live and deliver longer lasting leafy greens and herbs to our customers in cities across America, no matter the weather outside. It’s more important than ever to grow food using fewer natural resources, and we’re proud to be part of the agricultural industry’s solution to the increasingly visible impacts of climate change.”

Vertical Harvest Farms, Co-Founder & CEO Nona Yehia shows how they are taking the company to the next level: 

“At Vertical Harvest, our mission is to grow food and futures. We believe there’s a unique opportunity to create the future we want, from the food we need and succeed at scale. Recently, we achieved an industry first, a landmark deal led by the private sector and backed by the USDA. This innovative approach of blended finance is a solution for capital intensive projects and is a huge step forward in Controlled Environment Agriculture, demonstrating a scalable model of how private sector innovation, backed by governmental support, can address a critical piece of Maine’s food system infrastructure.”

Zordi Founder & CEO Gilwoo Lee emphasizes how artificial intelligence can help to build efficiency and profitability in farming operations:

“AI has always been great at optimization, and now it’s going beyond human capability in analysis and decision-making. It’s also making robots and machines more powerful. Now, for AI to deliver such performance in a specific industry or application, two things have to be true: (1) lots of data (2) big profit or loss protection expected by adopting AI. With labor shortage and climate change, farms are ever more willing to adopt some form of digitalization and automation. This will start creating a positive cycle between (1) and (2), drive more AI adoption, and enable it to get better.”

Four Star Mushrooms Founder & President Joe Weber shares how the development of the indoor farming sector has opened doors for the growth of new and specialty mushroom varieties:

“Mushrooms, the pioneers of controlled environment agriculture (CEA), have a rich history that dates back to the cool, humid caves of 17th-century France. As the frontiers of indoor farming technology push forward, the mushroom sector is experiencing a renaissance. Modern advancements not only broaden the spectrum of exotic and specialty varieties available but also enhance our mastery over their cultivation environments. This shift challenges outdated perceptions and sets the stage for a sustainable revolution in circular food production. We aim to leverage data analytics to fine-tune energy efficiency, resource management, and consumer-centric breeding, paving the way for innovative strains that will reshape the future of agriculture.” 

We look forward to hearing more from our greenhouse and vertical farming growers on their panel sessions at the summit, book your place now to join them.