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Applied Technology: Putting the hyper in local

For some retailers and restaurants, proximity to local food is key—like next door, on the next floor, or on the roof— and you can’t get much fresher than that.

This technology is already gaining traction across the nation and worldwide with vertical farms in skyscrapers, vegetable and herb gardens at restaurants or near retailers, and container farms in areas where growing can be nearly impossible.

Local Roots, a Los Angeles-based startup, has created a twist on greenhouse growing. The company does grow produce and herbs in a protected setting, but instead of a greenhouse, the indoor farms are in 40-foot shipping containers.

The four student founders say that by using robotics, microbiology, and data analytics, their indoor container “TerraFarms” produce up to 300 times higher per square foot densities than traditional farms.

The containers “have also achieved cost parity with greens and other produce grown out in the field,” says Gary Hawkins, founder and CEO of the Los Angeles, CA-based Center for Advancing Retail & Technology, LLC.

Better yet, he says, “they use a fraction of the water and no pesticides or herbicides.”

Local Roots believes it has eliminated many hazards of the supply chain and is partnering with area businesses, restaurants, and retailers, notably Walmart.

And if a retailer or processor has the desire, Local Roots will not only sell and set up a TerraFarm, but oversee the entire growing process from seed to harvest for the freshest, local vegetables and herbs.

This is the fifth in a series of six stories on Applied Technology. To read the whole series, click here.


Heather Larson, a writer in Tacoma, WA, frequently delves into business issues affecting food-related companies.