Newark-based company behind world’s largest vertical farm feeds local appetite for fresh produce
By Vince Baglivo
Newark’s Ironbound section is a highly regarded dining and food destination. It is also home to AeroFarms, the world’s largest indoor vertical farm, currently under construction on Rome Street.
While the facility is being completed in time for a grand opening scheduled for later this year, AeroFarms, the company behind this new way to grow nutrient-dense leafy greens and herbs without sunlight, rain, or soil, has set up another commercial farm at 400 Ferry Street, the former home of a paintball facility that is less than half a mile away from Rome Street, bringing together one overall 100,000 square feet farming operation.
Recently, AeroFarms joined forces with the Ironbound Business Improvement District (IBID) to host a tour and tasting of several different leafy greens harvested at peak flavor grown with no pesticides and up to 95% less water than traditional farming.
“The Ironbound is a food-centric community, and having ‘Newark Fresh’ produce available to local residents as well as the hundreds of restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, markets and other food-related businesses in our district is a perfect match,” said Seth A. Grossman, the IBID’s Executive Director. “Newark’s business sector now includes a significant and growing number of food-related companies and we are proud that many, like AeroFarms, call the Ironbound home.”
In his welcome to local business owners and IBID board members, Marc Oshima, AeroFarm’s Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder, noted that the company’s mission is to combat our global food crisis through technology and has been building and operating indoor, vertical farms since 2004. “Our passion is great tasting food and sharing our harvest with the world,” Oshima stated. “There has never been a greater need for safe, dependable and nutritious food; that’s why we are committed to growing locally and sustainably on a global scale.”
AeroFarms has said it is committed to the local communities where their facilities are located. In Newark, the company is working to revive older buildings in the Ironbound and hopes to create local, year-round jobs and partner with schools to bring students hands-on farming experiences that foster greater connections to food.
Octavia Marinho, who manages Teixeira’s Bakery on Kossuth Street, said she was impressed by the explosive taste of the greens sampled plain and in a salad prepared by Chef Reggie of Mompou Tapas Wine Bar & Lounge for the event. Marinho must stick to a gluten-free diet for health reasons, and said she is always looking for better-tasting alternatives to what she thinks is the wan flavors of most lettuce and spinach. She said she is thinking of ways to incorporate the AeroFarms greens into new lunchtime salad combinations at Teixeira’s.
Currently, AeroFarms greens including baby kale, baby arugula, baby mizuna, baby watercress, and “spring mix” can be purchased at ShopRite of Newark on Springfield Avenue and at ShopRite of Brookdale in Bloomfield.
AeroFarms also hosts a farm stand at the 400 Ferry Street facility every Wednesday from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m., where local residents can taste and purchase freshly harvested baby greens. Restaurants and food businesses are welcome at the community farm stand as well.
Businesses interested in buying fresh greens can contact AeroFarms directly at email@example.com to be added to their contact list. AeroFarms sends out weekly emails of product availability on Tuesdays and they can be picked up throughout the week. For more information, email Farmstand@AeroFarms.com.
For more information about programs and services provided by the Ironbound Business Improvement District, visit goironbound.com. You can also follow news from the Ironbound District through social media atFacebook.com/goironbound
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