One year after announcing a new research and development partnership to grow strawberries indoors, Watsonville-based Driscoll’s and Plenty Unlimited Inc. are building a new indoor vertical strawberry farm.
Together, the companies aim to accelerate the growth of Driscoll’s top crop by using Plenty’s growing platform.
According to Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll’s of the Americas, the company’s work with Plenty began in October 2020.
“The focus was on optimizing flavor, texture, size and availability of strawberries,” Bjorn said. “Plenty’s vision and capabilities of pioneering the potential of indoor farming technology made them a clear leader in the space.”
As part of the partnership, Driscoll’s strawberries were initially grown in Plenty’s Laramie, Wyo. farm, the largest indoor plant science research facility of its kind. Plenty uses Driscoll’s proprietary genetics along with its own technology and plant science knowledge to grow the berries. They utilizes analytics, “machine learning” and customized lighting to deliver yields 150-350 times greater per acre than a standard berry field.
The new farm, currently being built in an undisclosed location, will mostly serve consumers in the Northeastern U.S., especially those who live in high-density, urban regions.
“The Northeast is the largest berry consumption region in the U.S., with a dense population of berry-loving consumers,” Arama Kukutai, CEO of Plenty, said in a press release. “Our partnership with Driscoll’s, coupled with Plenty’s optimized technology platform, ensures we can consistently grow premium berries closer to where these consumers live … We’re excited to bring our first indoor vertical farm dedicated to strawberries to life with the undisputed leader in the space.”
On its website, Plenty says that indoor vertical farms “create the perfect environment for plants, reducing the unpredictability of changing climates.”
Added Bjorn: “[Driscoll’s and Plenty] are clearly aligned on the mission to bring the most delicious food to consumers, while reducing environmental impact.”
J. Miles Reiter, Driscoll’s chairman and CEO, said in a press release that he is excited to see the initial successes of the companies’ partnership, and looks forward to expanding it in the future.
“Over the last year Plenty has demonstrated its technological leadership in indoor vertical farming by growing our proprietary strawberries to meet the rigorous flavor and quality required of a Driscoll’s berry,” Reiter said. “We are excited to see the initial success of our collaboration and look forward to expanding our relationship with a new farm.”