Watch CBS News

Earth Day: Going Vertical In Newark, Innovative AeroFarms Grows More With Less

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- In honor of Earth Day on Thursday, CBS2's Vanessa Murdock takes us to a vertical farm in Newark that's healthy for you and the environment.

The co-founder said his company works constantly to improve processes to become better stewards for our environment.

Greens are growing sky high in Newark. Arugula, baby kale, amaranth -- just to name a few varieties -- fill what used to be a steel factory. This is AeroFarms.

"Over the last 40 years, the Earth has lost 30% of its arable land. Here at AeroFarms, we grow with no soil. Plants don't need soil, they need nutrients and micronutrients," co-founder and CEO David Rosenberg said.

Vertical Farming
(Photo: CBS2)

He said plants don't need sun either, but they do need spectrum of light, which is provided by LEDs. Everything is grown aeroponically; water and nutrients get misted onto the roots.

"Ultimately, we're able to grow plants giving them exactly what they want," Rosenberg said.

READ MOREEarth Day: How Native Plants Like Milkweed Help Birds And Monarch Butterflies

Rosenberg said they grow more with less of a lot of things. Soil obviously, water, too.

"It takes 90-95% less than traditional farming," grower Steven Jeanty said.

He said that's because the water is on a closed-loop system. No chemicals run-off into the water supply.

No pesticides, no herbicides, fungicides. The greens are ready to eat. That's why Murdock was dressed like a surgeon getting ready to go into the OR.

"We grow on a recycled material made out of plastic bottles ... We can grow to infinite heights, and that gives us a lot more growing space than any traditional field farm," said Stacy Kimmel, vice president of research and development.

READ MOREEarth Day: Future Of Solar Energy Looking Brighter

Vertical farming
(Photo: CBS2)

By the numbers, growing vertically with aeroponics has proven to be 390 times more productive per square foot than traditional field farming.

"We also put in supplemental CO2. Plants are carbon-based, so there's an element of carbon sequestration here," Rosenberg said.

And the greens can go from growing to grocery store within 24 hours.

Now, that's fast food that packs a healthy punch -- for humans and mother Earth, too.

AeroFarms has partnered with the city of Newark and Jersey City to build small AeroFarms in schools and community centers to help eliminate food deserts.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.