Our team includes a diverse range of professionals with expertise in agriculture, logistics, and next-generation grow lighting.
To deliver fresh, local, and organic vegetables at lower than grocery store prices with higher than grocery store nutrients and flavor.
A sustainable local-focused food supply network in the U.S. and around the world with indoor weatherproof facilities that do not rely on GMOs and pesticides or create pollution from long-distance produce transportation.
Communicating Positive Change
In addition to developing indoor grow operations, this 4 minute video highlights our documentary film project, that will help achieve a more sustainable future. We produced the video to seed next-generation student farmers and our ongoing technology implementation. Light-emitting diode (LED) grow lights have advanced significantly over the past decade. The increases in efficiency and the decreases in equipment cost give us the ability to provide fresh and organic vegetables at lower than grocery store prices. For more about our LED grow lights from our U.S. LED manufacturing partner, Independence LED Lighting, please see: LED Grow Lights.
Our Farm Partner Network
As we continue to expand our national network of agriculture partners, we welcome the addition of indoor and greenhouse farmers that produce top quality microgreens. The more farm partners that we have in different cities and communities across America, the more easily we can reduce the cost of shipping lettuce and basil to grocery stores and microgreens to our Microgreen Club members. We believe that “strength in numbers” is key to achieve our vision. Economies of scale benefit our Farm Partners when it comes to everything from buying seeds to advanced technology. As an example, for 2019, we are please to extend factory-direct pricing for LED grow lights to our Farm Partners.
Training for Entrepreneurs
These points of light reflect the incredible opportunities to feed over 300 million Americans with more nutritious and affordable vegetables. If you do not have specific indoor farming experience, but you would like to join the veggie revolution and become one of our Farm Partners, please Contact Us. The market is expanding, and we work with Microgreen Entrepreneurs to identify everything from the right location for an indoor farm to the start-up cost financial modeling and ROI. Since 2016, our Local Grow Farms research team has been conducting comprehensive analysis and mapping “food desserts” for areas of opportunity.
Our team includes a dynamic range of passionate individuals with diverse backgrounds. We work well together, because some of us have multiple decades of experience in advanced technology and lighting while others have fresh perspective on indoor farming and sustainability practices. We are critical thinkers, and our bios reflect the range of our backgrounds and skills.
Our Sustainable Food Machine
LED grow lights are typically one of the most expensive and mission critical technologies for indoor farming, and we have a competitive advantage through our Independence LED manufacturing. Solar and wind power installations are certainly another expensive aspect of this system. We can affordably include renewable systems, when appropriate, via power purchase agreements and renewable energy credits.
The highlight information below corresponds to the numbers our Sustainable Food Machine diagram.
1: Grow Lights – The rack of light emitting diode (LED) lights are the engines of photosynthesis. We have a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) meter to customize the wavelengths and optimize growth. Across the red, green, and blue (RGB) light spectrums, plants typically use less green for photosynthesis, and they bounce back the “G” which is why so many pants look green to humans like us. Our optimized LED grow lights typically have more red and blue than green to save energy and maximize growth.
2: Plants – The reason we are doing all of this!
3: Hydroponics – The method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.
4: Aquaponics – The method that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.
5: Fish Food – Our system incorporates herbivore fish, such as tilapia, that eat algae and duck weed, which we can grow in addition to the vegetables under the LED grow lights. Beyond the vegetable production, this system also cultivates fresh fish for human consumption, given the ongoing breeding cycle of life. A Pescatarian Diet (plant-based + seafood) is one of the healthiest ways to get protein, fiber, and the key minerals and vitamins that sustain human life.
6: HVAC – The correct balance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is key for successful indoor agriculture.
7: Solar – Photovoltaic (PV) panels are incorporated when appropriate, with solar tracking to maximize power generation. We also include wind turbines and roof top vertical axis wind turbines to provide renewable power to the system, where appropriate.
8: Water – Collection and filtration is an added sustainability factor. Indoor farming with hydroponic or aquaponic systems typically use 90% less water than outdoor agriculture, but collecting water is one more way to reduce the impact of corporate industrial agriculture on the environment.
9: Batteries – Back up batteries for power storage are part of the system for energy resilience.
10: Smart Controls – The Internet of Things (IoT) creates excellent opportunities for wireless and remote oversight and performance monitoring of single and/or multiple facilities in different geographical areas across the U.S. and around the world.
These systems are tied together with a Direct Current (DC) Microgrid via power hub drivers for added efficiency.
Note: If you would like to learn more, Chapter 14 in the book Learn from Looking is dedicated to this indoor farming system. See: www.LearnfromLooking.com
JOBS: According to the U.S. Green Building Council and many other organizations, clean technology has the potential to create hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new jobs across America. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) is an increasing focus at education and professional levels, and we look forward to training the next generation of indoor farmers that are agriculture technicians “agro-techs.” In addition to the work at the grow facilities, we also make our LED grow lights here in America. In 2010, we moved our Independence LED manufacturing from China to southeastern Pennsylvania, and we were one of the first Buy American Act (BAA) Compliant LED manufactures in the country, and we are members of the Leadership Council of the American LED Alliance.
Our Sustainable Food Machine will serve as a powerful platform for Phase II. We hope to engage with students in America and support people in developing countries. Our meetings with both NASA and the United Nations, referenced below, set the initial ideas in motion. These Phase II initiatives will require strategic partners to reach our goals, and we are sharing this information to give you perspective on our vision.
#1: S.T.E.M. Education
Given that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) is an increasing focus at education and professional levels, and we look forward to inspiring and engaging students that may become future “agro-tech” participants in the next generation of sustainable food cultivation.
This rolling education concept came out of our preparation to meet with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In 2015, our co-founder, Charlie Szoradi, was invited to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The presentation included the Sustainable Food Machine, specifically for the human surface landing on Mars. While the scheduled landing is not until 2030, the planning is naturally extensive. Mr. Szoradi demonstrated the LED grow lights at NASA and reinforced how the system is ideal to supplement life support for astronauts, given that it provides “perpetual” food as well as oxygen. While the system was designed for feeding people on earth, this extra-terrestrial application has the potential to inspire the next generation of scientists.
Our presentation to NASA also included our concept to deploy a program on earth to reinforce S.T.E.M. for Kindergarten through 12th grade students. We understand that most schools have limited budgets, so instead of building Sustainable Food Machines on campuses, or scheduling field trips to indoor farms, we hope to eventually develop a fleet of “rolling” indoor farms, built into semi-trucks, complete with solar on the roof and water collection internalized. Our LED grow lights have already been proven successful in stationary shipping containers, so putting those containers on wheels is a way to bring the field trips to the students.
For NASA, we came up with the program name “LAUNCH” – Learn About Ultimate NASA Coexisting Habitats, and for the private sector, we expect to focus on “Future Food,” with the graphic example above. For transportation, the latest generation of zero emissions powered semi-trucks helps reinforce the sustainability focus of this initiative. Fuel alternates include options via hydrogen (Nikola Motor Company), electric (Tesla Electric Semi), and natural gas (Clean Energy Fuels). We hope to inspire students across America by working with government agencies like NASA, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in conjunction with forward thinking corporate partners.
#2: Support for Developing Countries
The Water, Energy, and Food (WES) security nexus is important to our team as well as to many leaders of the 193 countries that make up the United Nations (UN). In 2016, our co-founder, Charlie Szoradi, was invited to the United Nations in New York, to share our vision for the Sustainable Food Machine specifically regarding the UN’s sustainable development goals in the developing world. The concept was based on this foundational understanding that many developing countries often have limited fresh water resources but an abundance of sunlight. The Sustainable Food Machine uses 90% less water than outdoor farming and can run on solar power. The adage “Teach a man how to catch a fish, rather than give him a fish,” is now elevated to, “Teach a man how to farm many fish rather than catch just one.” A Pescatarian Diet (plant-based + seafood) is one of the healthiest ways to get protein, fiber, and the key minerals and vitamins that sustain human life.
What is the food impact for a U.S. school or a village in the developing world?
For our Future Food Film project, we are providing 50 American schools, across a range of student age and socioeconomic diversity, with LED grow light systems that are each capable of growing over 3,000 lbs of microgreens per year. The 4’ x 8’ LED systems cover 6’ x 10’ of grow area (60 sq ft). At 1 lb of microgreens per sq ft per week, the yield is 60 lbs per week. 52 weeks per full year = 3,120 lb of vegetables. Given summer break and other vacations, the 8-month yield is still a massive 2,400 lbs of microgreens. At 60 lbs per week and 1/2 oz per student per lunch, the consumption is 2.5 oz per student per week. Each lb (16 oz) provides microgreens to 6.4 students. The 60 lbs feeds 384 students per week. While this is not enough for a large high school, it is certainly enough for participating science students and members of environmental clubs or like-minded other groups. The microgreen yield for almost 400 students each week can cover many middle and elementary schools as well as college and graduate students studying plant sciences.
For the developing world, we envision similar size “pilot” projects that we intent to “boost” with the solar panels to deliver ongoing sustainable food production. Our long-term vision is to provide complete Sustainable Food Machines for villages, with the system size scaled to the size of the villages.