Written by Taylor Soper, Geekwire
An indoor farming startup backed by some of the biggest names in tech has arrived in Seattle, expanding its effort to change how people eat fruits and vegetables.
Plenty today announced that it will open a 100,000 square-foot farm in Kent, Wash., where the 3-year-old company will grow pesticide-free, “backyard quality” produce for consumers in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. It’s the first time the startup has expanded beyond its home markets in South San Francisco and Wyoming; it will also be the company’s first “full-scale” farm.
Plenty grows its plants in 20-foot tall towers inside a climate-controlled facility with LED lights. It does not use pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMOs. The system uses thousands of infrared cameras and sensors to collect data in the farms, which is then analyzed using machine learning to optimize how the plants grow.
Plenty said its technology can achieve yields of up to 350 times greater than traditional agriculture while using 1 percent of the water and barely any land compared to conventional methods. Plenty’s farms can also grow plants — up to 300 variants of produce — year-round, regardless of season, which helps increase efficiency. Its proximity to cities also means that produce doesn’t sit in trucks for days or weeks before ultimately arriving on your kitchen table.
“As we looked at the West Coast, Seattle was the best example of a large community of people who really don’t have much access to any fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally,” he explained.
Plenty will hire 50 people at the farm in Kent, and expects to double the size of its team, Barnard said. Fresh produce will start shipping to a few restaurants initially in mid-2018, and then to other buyers that will be announced at a later date. It also plans to open more farms across the country and eventually around the world.