Two of the auto maker’s plants in Japan have set up greenhouses to grow the crops, with the aim, not of penetrating the produce industry, but to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Toyota plant at Kamigo, Japan, which manufactures engines for Crown and Lexus models, grows four varieties of strawberries. The plant in Miyogi has a greenhouse growing cherry tomatoes.
“Our production facilities inevitably emit heat and CO2, which are sustenance for plants,” comments an article in Toyota Times. “Waste heat and CO2 normally have a negative environmental impact, and the idea was to find a productive use. This approach also brings economic benefits, including lower fuel costs.”
One innovation: long rectangular trays that slide out, reducing the need for aisle space and increasing production per acre by 150 percent. “Enabling these rows to slide sideways greatly reduces the required number of aisles, leaving more room for cultivating strawberries,” says Toyota Times.
The crops are not grown for the commercial market but are offered free to workers in Toyota’s company cafeterias. “We’re not here to take farmers’ jobs—we want to help them by building efficient agricultural systems and providing other forms of technical support,” explainsHiroshi Okajima, project general manager for Toyota’s R&D and engineering management division.