Exeleon Magazine

AeroFarms: Redefining Agriculture and Sustainability


When we think about the early 2000s, we are reminded of the staggering growth of the internet, its contribution to the globalization of trade and commerce, and the emergence of a massive environmental movement across the globe.

The toxic impacts of pollution, consumption of non-renewable resources and, lately, the horrifying information regarding the animal agriculture industry’s contribution to our planet is heard loud and clear by all of us.

However, we rarely come across information regarding the dangerously magnanimous carbon footprint left by traditional plant-based agricultures. Moreover, we rarely see companies that work around these issues in order to bring about a revolutionary change. One of these rare companies, dedicated to lead with example, contributing to this environmental revolution is AeroFarms.

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Meet the Muse

AeroFarms is a leading agtech company that is pioneering the way technology-based agriculture is conducted, keeping their environment-friendliness as a core focus. With disruption heavily embedded in its DNA, this company is working tirelessly towards building farms closer to cities and disintermediating their supply chain, thereby substantially lowering the carbon footprint. The company is also dedicated in providing communities with nutrition by growing safe, farm-fresh and delicious food throughout the year.

Maintaining a high level of sensitivity towards the environmental impact of conventional agriculture on our precious resources, AeroFarms is a global pioneer in growing commercial plants indoors. The company has achieved to a growing productivity that is as high as 390 times per square foot as compared to traditional agriculture. Additionally, they have successfully pulled this feat by using up to 95% less water and zero pesticides.

Over the years, AeroFarms has been able to reform the way agriculture is conducted by leveraging the latest sensing technologies and data sciences to bring their mission to life of growing the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity.

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The Genesis

With successful completion of 16 years in 2020, AeroFarms was born when three visionaries were aligned with the primary goal of enabling local food production via indoor vertical farming to nourish communities with safe, healthy, yet delicious food.

The name AeroFarms was derived from a combination of what the company does – farming, and how such farming is done – aeroponically. ‘Aero’ aptly refers to the company’s patented aeroponic growing technology, while ‘Farms’ is used to describe their role as growers of fresh, nutritious, and delicious food products.

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Builders of AeroFarms

This pioneering tech-based agricultural company was built by three co-founders, namely David Rosenberg, CEO; Marc Oshima, CMO; and Dr. Harwood, CSO. Understanding the backgrounds and applauding the accolades of these members of the company will enable us to derive insights into not only their contribution to the growth of AeroFarms, but also how their partnership has successfully resulted in the disruptive organization that stands tall in front of us.

Mr. Marc Oshima, recognized by Eating Well as one of the American Food Heroes, is passionate about improving our food system and increasing access to healthier food, that also tastes great. Dr. Harwood is a World Technology Award Winner and a former professor at Cornell University, considered to be one of the most prestigious agriculture schools in the world. Dr. Harwood has provided great insights and support to the company’s key research and development projects through his dynamic leadership and guidance.

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Leading Visionary

David Rosenberg, the CEO of AeroFarms, is a World Economic Forum clean-tech champion. He has not only fueled our inspiration to fundamentally rethink our relationship with water, but also provided us with insights into how to mold and change our farming processes to attain disruptive goals. His expertise in circular economy, coupled with his strong background in hyper-growth companies, substantially contributes to the creation of an innovative, change-the-world mentality within the company.

David has worked at four change-the-world, start-ups/hyper-growth companies that were institutionally-backed. As a member to the World Economic Forum, David also co-chairs the Young Global Leaders Circular Economy Taskforce and is a member of the WEF Global IoT Council.

Aside from this, he is also a member of the U.S. delegation to the B20 Sustainable Food System Taskforce, which advises the G20. Additionally, David serves as a Managing Trustee of New Jersey’s Liberty Science Center – a prominent U.S. Interactive Science Museum. This exhaustive list David’s titles are enough indication of the expeditious trajectory of AeroFarms.

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Market Landscape and Harvesting Change

Research has suggested that in the past 4 decades, 30% of arable land globally has been lost. 70% of precious freshwater resources are dedicated to agriculture, while 70% of freshwater contamination occurs through conventional agricultural processes. This further results in dead zones, thereby dramatically handicapping natural ecosystems.

In the U.S., most fresh leafy greens are supplied from California or Arizona, which takes thousands of miles of transport and logistics, on a daily basis, to meet demands successfully. This not only leads to massive emissions of hazardous carbon-based gases, but also leads to over 75% of this food going to waste along the supply chain.

Studies have predicted that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will reside in megacities across the globe, with over 9 billion humans. The above-mentioned agriculture and supply-chain processes are already straining the balance of the ecosystem. Taking into account such migration to megacities, the environmental stressors might take a monstrous form, calling for urgent solutions to help take pressures off of agricultural and supply chain processes and effectively feed the ever-growing population.

Amidst this, AeroFarms has taken a vital initiative in this direction, encouraging fast-paced growth of the agtech industry and the manifold developments in innovation. The company grows and sells leafy greens throughout the northeast, while also working on major research projects related to plant science and technology.

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Growth and Innovation-Centric Management

One of the biggest reasons behind AeroFarms’ ground-breaking success is the culture maintained within the organization. “We are more than a farm – a group of world-class agriculture experts, engineers, data scientists, food safety specialists, registered dietitian nutritionists that are dedicated to fundamentally change the way we understand plants and how they are grown,” says David.

The company also facilitates innovation among its team through the creation of deep research, encouraging data exchange among different departments, and cultivating a systems thinking approach.

“With an innovative intersection of subjects like horticulture and engineering, adding food safety, data science, and nutrition to the mix, enables us to gain a unique perspective on plant biology, reforming our approach,” continues Mr. Rosenberg.

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Why is AeroFarms the Muse?

Aside from being named as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company two years in a row, AeroFarms was recently featured among TIME Magazine’s 2019 Best Innovations. This is due the company’s ground-breaking data-centric approach towards vertical farming and sustainable practices.

AeroFarms’ growing technology is extremely modular and adaptive to different repurposed industrial spaces. Apart from commercial farms dedicated to nourish communities, the company also has world-class R&D farms. These farms are focused towards sophisticated research through strategic partnerships with some major Fortune 100 companies to aid them with agriculture supply chain needs.

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Weeding Challenges

AeroFarms strives to make this planet a better place through innovative and sustainable agriculture. To achieve this mission, they strive to deliver all of their retail brand Dream Greens to stores within up to 24 hours of harvest to ensure that consumers are eating the freshest, best-tasting greens. The company maintains optimal client satisfaction by growing these greens with zero pesticides and providing traceable food all year round.

However, since the company’s core mission and vision are focused on innovation inspired by sustainability, some of the biggest challenges of AeroFarms revolves around scaling globally and reaching more communities and produce crops closer to cities. The company plans to do so while simultaneously ensuring that it continues to innovate and lead the market with better designs that are more sustainable than their last editions.

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The Next Season

The coming years are bound to grace AeroFarms with disruptive innovation and evolution in the agtech industry. “We are excited to continue to innovate in the field of agtech and scale our farms all over the world to grow the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity through our mission,” concludes David in a succinct manner.

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