One of the beauties of urban farming is that it can be implemented on both a
small scale by individual urban dwellers as well as large commercial scale, supplying
surrounding communities with locally sourced urban farmed goods.
These 3 companies, running urban farming operations at the commercial scale in some of the worlds largest cities, are urban agriculture enterprises to watch out for, if you have not seen their products on the shelf of your local grocery store, you may see them soon!
1. Metropolitan Farms (Chicago)
Despite opening less than a year ago (Fall 2015), Metropolitan farms has been years in the making. CEO Benjamin Kent had been developing the concept for quite some time before launching the 10,000+ sq ft facility that is Metropolitan farms today.
Metropolitan farms' specialty? Aquaponic farming - and lots of it. The rapidly growing company is on pace to produce approximately 100,000 heads of lettuce annually.
The best part? With close proximity to clients, metro farms can get their products to clientele as quickly and as freshly as possible, a common benefit to the urban farming approach.
But lettuce isn't the only output of Metropolitan farms, they also produce the urban farming staple herb basil along with over a tonne of fish annually produced by the hydroponic cycle.
2. Bright Farms (Washington D.C. , Chicago, and others)
Bright Farms also focuses on greenhouse style urban farming, but thus far has built larger urban agriculture facilities on the outskirts of urban centers. Currently, the company has over a quarter million square feet in cumulative growing space, and has raised over $25MM cumulatively to expand their urban farming operations.
The production output potential of some of Bright Farms' new facilities is also staggering to say the least. The Chicago facility, according to CEO Paul Lightfoot, will have the capability to produce upwards of one million pounds of urban farmed produce annually to customers at large retail grocers such as Mariano's.
Bright Farms' isn't slowing down either - according to CEO Lightfoot, the company, which originally started as a non-profit but has now switched to for-profit, has plans to expand by opening over 15 new urban farming locations in the near future.
3. Gotham Greens (New York, Chicago)
With over 150,000 sq ft cumulatively in facilities spanning across New York City and Chicago predominantly, Gotham Greens is stiff competition for companies like the aforementioned Bright Farms in what has now become a crowded space in commercial urban large-scale farming.
The secret sauce of Gotham Greens may lie in its highly technical approach to their growing systems, which utilize advanced computer algorithms to manage growing conditions with more efficiency than human farmers possibly could.
Investors are starting to buy in also, with Gotham Greens having raised over $30 MM in venture funding to date, they are without question a trending agricultural technology startup and the proof is in the pudding in terms of traction - Gotham has picked up high profile clients such as Whole Foods.
With the urban agricultural landscape expanding so rapidly (and it is expanding quite rapidly, urban agriculture is now practiced by over 800 million people worldwide, or over 10% of the world population, according to the FAO), these three companies will be in the center of the a rapidly swelling market.
Both commercial enterprises such as these as well as individuals practicing urban farming could lead to unprecedented prevalence and reliance on urban farming in the not so distant future.