NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Could the answer to the global food crisis be hidden in a warehouse in New Jersey? A local indoor farming startup is producing affordable crops there year-round, independent of the weather.
And food safety is paramount. That means outside clothes or jewelry can't come in. A visit to Bowery's farm starts with a uniform and some hand sanitizer. This vertically integrated farm in Kearny, New Jersey, is producing some seriously clean greens.
CEO and co-founder Irving Fain describes the farm as "post-organic" and says it is completely chemical free: no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides. Fain says it is the purest produce you could possibly get.
He founded the farm a few years ago along with David Golden and Brian Falther. They've brought in $7.5 million in funding from some rock star investors, including Top Chef Tom Colicchio.
The farm is now producing crops 365 days a year regardless of the weather, using a lot less water. Fain says it is 100 times more productive than the same square footage of outdoor land. The farm grows twice as fast as the field, with more crop cycles every year, more yield in every crop cycle, and uses 95 percent less water.
Their hope is to help solve the global food crisis. Fain says the planet's population will be 9 billion to 10 billion by 2050, so it will need 50 percent to 70 percent more food to feed everyone.
While that change is happening, 70 to 80 percent of people are living in cities. They saw that urbanization and became obsessed with the question: how do you provide fresh food to urban environments in a more efficient and sustainable way? The answer: start with LED lights. Fain says the lights they use mimic the sun, so it's as if the plant is growing in the absolute healthiest environment for its entire life. He says that the price of those lights dropped while their efficiency went up about 5 years ago, making indoor growing commercially viable.
Fain says Bowery sells 5-ounce clamshells for $3.99 or even $3.49, which is pretty standard, if not lower, than what you find out in the field. Throw in the Bowery Operating System, which creates optimal growing conditions, and Bowery is able to churn out fresh, affordable, and delicious greens.
And the farm is growing. Fain says they're already experimenting with different types of crops and other SKUs outside of the leafy green category.
Right now you can find Bowery lettuce and basil in tri-state Whole Foods and in Foragers Market in New York City. The lettuce you'll find there has often been harvested the same day it hits the shelves.