WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2016 – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research today announced a $1 million grant to New Jersey-based AeroFarms LLC, a leading vertical farming company, for a research project on precision agriculture. Aero Farms will match FFAR’s grant for a total investment of nearly $2 million.
Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR, a non-profit established in the 2014 farm bill, made the announcement at USDA headquarters in Washington where she was joined by ag research and industry leaders, including AeroFarms CEO David Rosenberg.
The project aims to improve crop production by defining the relationships between stressed plants, the phytochemicals they produce and the taste and texture of the specialty crops grown. FFAR says the work will result in commercial production of improved leafy green varieties and yield science-based best practices for farming.
“With more than half the world living in urban areas, continuing to provide nutritious food to the burgeoning population must include envisioning our cities as places where abundant, nutritious foods can be grown and delivered locally,” Rockey said. “We look forward to seeing this grant to AeroFarms catalyze innovation in vertical farming and plant production for the benefit of urban farmers and the communities they serve.”
FFAR said AeroFarms Chief Technology Officer Roger Buelow will be collaborating with scientists from Rutgers and Cornell universities to “take advantage of the precision that is possible in indoor vertical farming systems, where ‘stressors’ from light to humidity to temperature can be controlled consistently and precisely to improve specialty crop characteristics such as taste and nutritional quality.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, congratulated FFAR on the research partnership.
"Urban agriculture has incredible potential to spur economic opportunity, increase access to healthy food, and inspire the next generation of farmers,” Stabenow said in a statement. “I'm pleased that the foundation is committed to new techniques to grow food in innovative ways."
(The photo above the story shows, from the left, AeroFarms CEO David Rosenberg; USDA Acting Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Ann Bartuska; United Fresh Produce Association CEO Tom Stenzel; Parag Chitnis, deputy director, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture; FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey; and AeroFarms Chief Technology Officer Roger Buelow.)
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