FARIBAULT, Minn. - As a longtime financial planner, Dana Anderson knows a good investment.
And when he first grew lettuce with a homemade frame in his garage, he started to love a different kind of green.
“(The frame) really was quite crude—it was just two rod-iron fences leaning together,” said Anderson. “But there's a bunch of opportunities there.”
Five years later, that idea is now Living Greens Farm, housed in an abandoned warehouse and getting global attention.
“Now we're building one of the biggest indoor farms in the world,” said Dave Augustine, who left his corporate job a year ago to join Living Greens as CEO, with Anderson as Chairman.
Using aeroponics, Living Greens Farm is growing lettuce, herbs and microgreens vertically, with just 5 percent of the water and 1/200th of the land of traditional fields, all without herbicides or pesticides.
Fast Company says vertical farms will soon be a $42 billion dollar industry.
“Things like this are totally necessary to feed the human population in the future,” said Augustine.
Already, it seems futuristic, with a high tech system that eliminates the risk of bad weather since light, humidity, nutrients and temperature are all controlled by computer. That means crops grow year round in half the time and can be sold the next day, with nearly two dozen stores and restaurants already buying their produce.
And as its crops thrive, Living Greens is itself growing, expanding to more than 15 times its current size. It may next go worldwide, replicating its Minnesota operation in Europe and Asia, in turn creating both food and jobs for those who grow it.
“This is an opportunity to grow a product indoors that the community needs using the labor force that's available,” said Augustine.
As an acre of soil is reduced to just inches, farms—and the idea of what they should look like—are growing up.