NEW YORK — On Jan. 18, indoor aquaponic vertical farming company Upward Farms announced plans to add what will be the world’s largest vertical farm to its network. The new 250,000-square-foot facility, located in Luzerne County, PA, is slated to be complete and operational in early 2023 — providing fresh, locally sourced microgreens and sustainably raised hybrid striped bass to consumers throughout the Northeast and beyond.
Upward Farms’ aquaponic platform combines the precision, scalability, and year-round freshness of indoor farming with the benefits of whole ecosystem and microbiome-rich regenerative agriculture — waste from the fish is transformed into organic fertilizer for the leafy greens.
Upward Farms grows all of its products at the highest standards of quality and sustainability. Their leafy greens are USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO, and free from synthetic chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers, and their hybrid striped bass are certified for Best Aquaculture Practices, free from mercury, antibiotics, or added hormones. Today, Upward Farms’ washed and ready to eat microgreen salads can be found at Whole Foods Market locations across New York City, and the Company’s hybrid striped bass recently made their debut at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster, available to consumers at their retail location in Brooklyn and to diners and chefs across the many New York City restaurants Greenpoint supplies.
Local production, global impact, unprecedented scale
Upward farms is localizing production of what are today among the most dislocated perishable foods — 90 percent of leafy greens are grown on the West Coast and 90 percent of seafood is imported — increasing access to fresh, healthy, delicious, and responsibly grown food.
Upward Farms’ new facility in Pennsylvania will be 2-4x the size of the next largest vertical farms operated by their sector peers. Not only are Upward Farms’ facilities climate-resilient, but they also reduce water and land use by 95%. The company’s 250,000 square foot (~6 acre) facility will conserve more than 100 million gallons of water and more than 120 acres of land on an annual basis, and eliminate 1.7 million food transportation miles per year.
Upward Farms is investing in the local community and workforce, providing vocational training and upskilling along with more than 100 high-quality, well-paying jobs across manufacturing, technology, and business roles, in addition to 400 jobs throughout the course of the facility’s construction.
“I am pleased Upward Farms has decided to make Luzerne County the home of their new vertical farm,” said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. “The commonwealth has deep roots in the agribusiness industry and is known for having a spirit of innovation. This, along with our prime Northeast location, makes Pennsylvania an excellent choice for the world’s largest vertical farm.”
To date, agriculture has remained one of the least digitized industries, which indoor farming addresses through innovations in software and automation. However, scale, productivity, and efficiency in the industry have remained limited by biology. What’s now understood across biotechnology sectors is that biodiversity increases the productivity and stability of ecosystems — key factors for scalability. Upward Farms approach to biodiverse production not only addresses consumer appetite for ecologically grown foods, but also is based in game-changing science. What Upward Farms calls Ecological Intelligence is a proprietary microbiome technology that introduces a biologically-based reinforcement learning flywheel. By curating a diverse microbiome with genetic capacity for key functions, Upward Farms achieves an autonomous, self-optimizing, and highly productive biological manufacturing platform — including industry-leading commercial yields, next gen R&D yields of 4-5x peers, and 99% elimination of crop disease. While the Company is focused on near term success in the nearly $10B US packaged salad market, the Company’s Ecological Intelligence solution provides natural solutions for the biotechnology sector, where the value of the microbiome is exploding. In healthcare, the microbiome is already a $58B market ($100B 2025E), and agbiotech is a $32B market ($56B 2025E).
“Farming is one of the sectors that’s both highly exposed to the perils of climate change and one of its key drivers,” said Jason Green, CEO & Cofounder of Upward Farms. “Solutions for food production that are good for people and the planet are sorely needed. With the construction of the world’s largest vertical farm — our third aquaponic vertical farm overall — we’re demonstrating the power of nature and nurture, adding our proprietary Ecological Intelligence to the accelerating trend of indoor and vertical farming. With this new facility, we’ll be able to reach some of the most populous areas of the US, and nearly 100 million Americans, within a single day of distribution versus the week it can take to receive products from the west coast. This is a local success story with massive global implications for how and where food is grown, and the next generation of manufacturing technology.”
Upward Farms plans will construct its new Pennsylvania facility through 2022, with production and sales for the US Northeast beginning in early 2023. Upward Farms is planning continued expansion to new markets across the US in 2023 and beyond.
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Upward Farms is a breakthrough vertical farming company bringing whole ecosystems into controlled environment agriculture through aquaponic farming of leafy greens, fish, and a robust and beneficial microbiome. Founded in 2013 and led by CEO and Cofounder Jason Green, Upward Farms is the only large-scale vertical farm offering locally grown, washed and ready-to-eat USDA Certified Organic leafy greens and Best Aquaculture Practices-certified fish. Upward Farms grows and packs superior quality microgreens bursting with delicious flavor and nutrients that are best-selling products at Whole Foods Market.