When you think farm, you might imagine sun-drenched fields of fertile soil. You probably don't imagine a very large building in Newark, New Jersey. But AeroFarms, a startup that's developed technology allowing plants to grow without sunlight or dirt (and with very little water), might be about to change that.
According to CNN, the company's first 69,000-square-foot farm is slated to open in Newark, New Jersey this September and will produce leafy greens and herbs, like kale and basil. If this sounds a bit dystopian, consider that this approach could have major environmental benefits: AeroFarms says its new structure will require 95 percent less water than the average outdoor farm.
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The farm's technological design was inspired by the aeroponic farming techniques already used by astronauts at the International Space Station. At the AeroFarms facility, humidity, temperature, and light are all strictly controlled to create the most growth-friendly environment possible—free of seasons, days or nights. Each of the plant beds, which will cycle through 22-30 harvests every year, grows on a cloth made of recycled materials, under which their roots are misted with a nutrient solution. LED lights replace the sun and shine at the optimal wavelength for each plant.