Cutting-Edge Indoor Farm Spreads Seeds In Newark School System


NEWARK, NJ — A cutting-edge “indoor farm” based in Newark is spreading seeds in the city’s public school system, and it’s a win-win for kids and the company alike, it says.

AeroFarms – which has a corporate headquarters in Newark – has been making waves in the world of urban farming since breathing new life into a former steel mill in New Jersey’s largest city. Tapping into a unique closed-loop, aeroponic water circulation system, the facility can sprout millions of pounds of leafy greens every year, which can be found at stores such as Whole Foods Market, Walmart and The Fresh Market. Read More: ‘World’s Largest Indoor Vertical Farm’ Keeps Growing In Newark

Last week, AeroFarms announced that it is expanding its Community Farm program with several new mini-farms, which give students and educators the chance to get some hands-on experience with the same sort of growing technology that can be found at its Newark facility.

Throughout January, in partnership with the Newark Public School District, AeroFarms completed installations throughout the city, including at Central High School, George Washington Carver Elementary School, Sir Isaac Newton Elementary School, Thirteenth Avenue School and Michelle Obama Elementary School.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to provide fresh homegrown vegetables to our Newark Public School students, staff and families in our great city,” Newark Superintendent Roger León said.

The recent campaign expands on AeroFarms’ early work with Philip’s Academy Charter School in downtown Newark, where it installed an indoor farm in the cafeteria to be used for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education in 2011. The farm – which is also used to supplement the school’s food services for students – has attracted some high-profile fans, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, who paid it a visit as part of a national tour in 2016.

Earlier this month, AeroFarms completed a training event for teachers at the elementary school that bears the former first lady’s name. As part of the school’s Giving Tuesday event, students at Michelle Obama Elementary distributed 75 containers of AeroFarms healthy greens to families in their community.

“I feel proud of myself because the plants grew that we planted and am excited to learn more about plants and eat the greens in our class,” a second grader at Michelle Obama Elementary said.

The expansion of AeroFarms’ community farm program in Newark builds on the company’s project with Jersey City and the World Economic Forum’s Healthy Cities and Communities 2030 Initiative. AeroFarms is working with Jersey City to deploy vertical farms throughout the city to increase individual and community health by providing access to healthy foods.

“We are excited to bring new partners into the AeroFarms network as we expand our efforts to bring healthy food and STEAM education to communities where this can best make a positive impact,” said Jason Ginsberg, AeroFarms chief of staff and director of community farms.

“This is just the beginning and we’re eager to work with prospective sponsors and organizations as we further scale our community farm program in the United States and abroad,” Ginsberg said.

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