Kalera’s new Atlanta vertical-farming facility begins harvesting lettuce
Vertical farming company Kalera is celebrating the first harvest of its 77,000-square foot facility in the Atlanta area, the largest vertical-farming center in the Southeastern U.S.
The Forest Park, Georgia facility was constructed in just 11 months thanks in part to Kalera’s modular building approach, which is leading to rapid expansion throughout the U.S. It has the capability to produce 10 millions heads of lettuce per year.
“Our new Atlanta facility is open and performing in line with our expectations and we are eager to begin offering our local, fresh, safe, sustainable greens to the Georgia market,” said Daniel Malechuk, CEO of Kalera, through a press release. “Our customers are telling us that there has never been a better time to ensure supply continuity, locally, than now and we are grateful Kalera can provide this.”
Kalera’s optimized nutrient and light recipes allow them to grow high quality, pesticide-free, non-GMO produce at accelerated growth cycles. Planting at the Atlanta facility began in early March, and the first harvest began successfully in late April.
Kalera has so far experienced optimal operating efficiencies in Atlanta, particularly in terms of lighting productivity. All growth systems, environmental equipment and technology have operated effectively since opening the facility on March 11. Due to strong sales indications in the region from both retail and food service customers, Kalera is implementing a faster ramp-up schedule than originally planned.
The facility’s location near the urban center of Atlanta cuts down on travel times for retailers, restaurants and other customers who want access to the fresh, non-GMO, clean living lettuces and microgreens. Royal Food Service, a leading produce distributor in the state, is one of Kalera’s top partners bringing “pick-to-plate” greens to restaurants, hotels, schools, and other businesses including Ansley Golf Club, the Ritz-Carlton at Reynolds, Lake Oconee, the Georgia World Congress Center, several restaurants and many others. The lettuce is also available at Publix Supermarkets.
“As the former Governor of Georgia, I could not be more excited that Kalera’s delicious greens are now available in the Atlanta area,” said Sonny Perdue, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who joined Kalera’s board of directors earlier this year. “Kalera is leading the pack in a booming vertical farming industry. It’s a perfect example of the power of American innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship to develop different, innovative ways to grow and provide food at home and around the globe.”
Kalera is the only controlled environment agriculture company with coast-to-coast facilities being constructed, offering grocers, restaurants, theme parks, airports and other businesses nationwide reliable access to locally grown clean, safe, nutritious, price-stable, long-lasting greens. Once all of these farms are operational, the total projected yield is several tens of millions of heads of lettuce per year. Kalera uses a closed-loop irrigation system which enables its plants to grow while consuming 95% less water compared to field farming.
Recently, Kalera also acquired Vindara, a seed company that uses genomics, machine learning, and computational biology along with traditional breeding methods to meet the market need for produce that is non-GMO and high-yielding.