8-5-2019 New venture may spur local growth

Posted on: August 5th, 2019 by admin


August 5, 2019


By Guy Lucas


Aug 02, 2019 12:00 AM


A plant in Granite Falls that makes hydroponic farming units soon may be supplying equipment for automated, indoor farms in urban areas around the world.


80 Acres Farms, which is based in Ohio but has its manufacturing plant in Granite Falls, has entered a partnership called Infinite Acres with two international companies to sell and install automated hydroponic farming systems — growing plants without soil — and to offer related services, including marketing or even operating the farms for the customers, 80 Acres spokeswoman Rebecca Haders said.


80 Acres recently built the world’s first fully automated, warehouse-sized farm in Hamilton, Ohio, with equipment manufactured in Granite Falls,

Haders said. That plant also converts old shipping containers into enclosed, automated “vertical farming” units.


Haders said it is too early to tell what the partnership will mean for growth of the Granite Falls operation. Infinite Acres has a list of both U.S. and international customers who have expressed interest.


“We just don’t have a timeline for any specific project yet,” she said.


80 Acres grows a variety of produce, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, leafy greens and fruits such as strawberries, according to a press release.


“Infinite Acres’ mission is to provide the best technology available to grow the highest quality produce near population centers throughout the world — including in places where year-round nutritious produce is in short supply due to climate and growing conditions or must be transported considerably long distances,” the press release said.


The other partners are Ocado Group, a company based in the United Kingdom that the press release said is known for software and hardware systems, robotics, automation and artificial intelligence, and Priva Holding BV, a company based in the Netherlands that provides technology, services and automation systems to horticultural and other industries. Haders said Priva is particularly known for its airflow, waterflow and other technology for greenhouses.


Mike Zelkind, chief executive of 80 Acres, said in the press release: “Priva and 80 Acres Farms provide extensive horticulture, engineering, operational, and food industry expertise. Along with Ocado’s predictive analytics, automation and comprehensive system development, the partnership will provide its customers with everything from state of the art facilities with uniquely developed crop recipes and the right unit economics to an option for facility management with yield guarantees, product packaging, branding, marketing, and distribution.”


Tisha Livingston, chief executive officer of Infinite Acres, said that collaboration by the partners will make hydroponic farming more efficient and profitable.


“Infinite Acres believes its integrated solutions will have a considerable impact on the profitability, and competitiveness of food service industry customers everywhere — growers, distributors, retailers, and governments — who seek the cleanest, healthy, pesticide-free produce for consumers,” she said.


Tim Steiner, chief executive officer of Ocado, said the goal is to be able to place enough vertical farming units in cities to offer “the very freshest and most sustainable produce that could be delivered to a customers’ kitchen within an hour of it being picked.”

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