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Freshness in Food the Farmshelf Way

Want the freshest ingredients for you and your family? We don’t blame you. The produce you grab at your local grocery store may seem fresh but in reality, those greens have traveled many (sometimes thousands!) of miles to get to your refrigerator shelves. One of the best ways to support our food systems and enjoy fresh ingredients is to minimize the travel times in between the farm and your plate. 

While there are ways to minimize food travel, we believe in growing food where you are for the most nutritious, flavorful produce possible. 

Fresh Ingredients and Hydroponics 

With hydroponic growing, the yield and nutritional value of produce is consistently higher than traditional farming. 

Why is this? Studies have shown that there is significant nutrient loss in traditional soil farming. A plant growing in soil has to search for its necessary nutrients in the earth, which is often compacted, dry, and dense (leaving a lot to be desired for our leafy friends). 

In these cases, not only does the plant lose valuable energy in the process but nutrients are lost along the way, and we know that’s not what you wanted to hear. 

Growing using a hydroponic system enables a much more efficient (and also clean!) process  for delivering nutrients to the plant. Because of this, it’s proven that hydroponic growing results in average 4x yield and 30-50x faster growth than traditional farming methods. 

In a hydroponic system, food is allowed to grow and ripen on the plant itself, free from the chemicals typically used to deter pests and soil disease. This has huge implications for nutrient density and flavor as well as yield. Plus, we love no pesticides! 

Farmshelf helps you implement a hydroponic growing process in the comfort of your own home. Using our technology of nutrient delivery, water, and light, your plant yields and harvest can be managed right under your own green thumb. 

Traveling Feet Instead of Miles 

While this may seem obvious to most of you food smarties out there, nutrient preservation and flavor in food is closely linked to distribution and harvest methods. 

It is proven that both fruits and vegetables lose their optimal nutritional value as soon as they are picked. When picked, vitamins such as C, E, A, and some B vitamins begin to deteriorate and because of this, the overall nutritional value of the food decreases. Not only is this bad news for your diet, but also for your flavor profile while cooking. It goes without saying that fresh food has much richer flavor that stands on its own in any dish! After food is picked, the flavor profile begins to dwindle rapidly. To receive an ingredient’s best flavor, it should be eaten within 48 hours of being picked. This just isn’t possible with increased shipping distances, food that sits in grocery stores, and other factors that contribute to delays from farm to fork. 

With a Farmshelf in your home, your ingredients can be sliced, diced, sauteed, and savored within moments from leaving the farm. That’s the true meaning of nutritious AND delicious. 

LED Lights Explained

 

Farmshelf relies on several technical components including LED lights to create the ultimate growing environment for your crops. Why are LED lights so integral to the inner workings of your Farmshelf? We took some time to break down the basics of LED lighting - its unique advantages, functions for plant growth, and applications beyond hydroponics.

What are LED Lights?

LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode. What’s a diode? A diode is an electrical device or component with two electrodes that supports the flow of electricity. The current travels in one direction, coming into an anode (+) and flows out of a cathode (-). An LED light is a device that emits light when an electrical current passes through.

How are LED Lights Used?

LED lighting is considered the future of light because of its efficiency, size, and longevity. The applications for LEDs are varied. They can be found in traffic signals, advertisements, planes, and grow lights. Everyday new technological innovations are finding ways to implement LED lighting because of these unique advantages. 

How Plants Use Light

Light is vital to all plants because it allows for the facilitation of photosynthesis, a process that converts light, oxygen, and water into carbohydrates (a form of energy). Quality of light can impact the growth, color, nutrition, and even the taste of plants! 

It's no surprise that Farmshelf has dedicated years of research and experimentation to develop the lights used in each unit. 

Why Use Colored Light With Plants?

Electromagnetic radiation is a form of light energy that travels in wavelengths. The electromagnetic spectrum is a range of these wavelengths varying in size. The human eye can only detect wavelengths ranging from 400-700nm. This is known as visible light, while other portions of the spectrum have wavelengths too large or too small and energetic for human perception - but not for plants!

In most conventional indoor farming setups and operations, you will most likely see purple grow lights being used. This is because the most effective wavelengths of visible light are within the blue (425-450nm) and red (600-700nm) range. A combination of these wavelengths provide optimal light conditions for crops. Quality and wavelength of electromagnetic radiation can contribute to color, nutrition, texture, size, and even taste.

Why Use LED Light With Plants? 

LED As a Sustainable Light Source

Hydroponic agriculture provides plants with a controlled growth environment, similar to a lab. Variables that impact growth and yield such as light, nutrients, and temperature are manipulated to optimize the harvest. In traditional farming, outdoor growing leaves plants susceptible to variables out of a grower’s control - such as pests, weather, and light intensity. Sunlight emits fixed wavelengths, while LED lights can be tailored to a given farm size and scale. LEDs are the most cost-effective option for indoor farming due to its low heat output and ability to change color. 

Farmshelf Lights Up the World of Indoor Farming 

Paving the Way to Automated Agriculture

The future of farming is here and it's using LED lighting! Customization through LED lighting, water, and nutrients control allows for endless possibilities in modern farming. With the Farmshelf app’s smart settings, the lights turn on when they need to as they need to to support your plant’s growth cycle. Can you say, “instant green thumb?” 

Smart Crop Rotation is a feature that allows Farmshelf farmers to delay harvest times, slowing plant maturation. Going on vacation? No problem! Say goodbye to wilted produce in your crisper drawer and hello to Farmshelf’s revolutionary design. 

Similar to biophilic design, Farmshelf has introduced not only agricultural innovation, but a new relationship between food and consumers. Now, we can have an up-close and personal view of what it takes to go from seed, crop, to plated meal. While elevating access to wholesome, nutritious foods, Farmshelf is also an education tool. It bridges the knowledge gap that has plagued our global food network since society’s shift from agrarian life. Facing a worsening climate crisis and rapidly diminishing resources, outdoor farming has become increasingly taxing on natural landscapes. Thanks to LED technology, the future of farming is indoor, controlled growing that opens endless possibilities for agricultural development. Now, food production can be adapted to the specific needs of smaller communities. Shifting from large to small scale, growing as local as your kitchen. 

Indoor Farming 101

 

The movement towards sustainable eating practices and farming has thrown a spotlight on the farm-to-fork journey. Increasingly, we are not just concerned with what is on our plate but with how it got there. That journey can now be measured in feet thanks to new at-home indoor farming systems.

From conventional manual watering systems to automated aeroponic, aquaponic and hydroponic systems, indoor farmers have a broad range of options for managing their own fresh food supply at home. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What is Indoor Farming?

Indoor farming might have been pioneered by big vertical farmers on a large scale, but that same technology is now coming into the home. Both commercial-scale and personal units offer a way to grow a variety of leafy greens, microgreens, herbs, flowering crops, vegetables and other produce in controlled conditions—helping bring fresh food to urban centers and food deserts.

Indoor growing is expected to be big business—a $40+ billion market by 2022. Not only does indoor farming lower food miles on essential produce, but it also reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides that can damage the environment and affect the overall nutrition of the crops. Crops can be grown year-round and faster. Plus, as any chef with an onsite garden can testify, there is no substitute for home-grown produce when it comes to freshness and taste.

Why Indoor Farm 

Indoor Farming Reduces Waste

Even if cleaning our plates was ingrained in us as kids, we’re still causing dramatic levels of food waste. Over one and a half billion tons of food goes to waste each year and that figure is growing. The environmental impact of food waste is undeniable, contributing to 22 percent of all landfills and almost a tenth of all greenhouse gas emissions. 

A huge portion of food waste takes place at the consumer level, with produce topping the list of items tossed aside. While the farming and food industries have their own battles to fight, shifting consumer behavior can be tackled at home. Purchasing only food we can consume before it spoils, prioritizing in-season produce, and overlooking minor imperfections on the produce we do buy are all small steps we can take to reduce food waste. By shopping at farmer’s markets, you can also help localize the supply chain, which means less waste at every stage from farm to table.

Now, imagine a world where you can plant your own produce, pick only what you need, and leave the rest growing. While this is presently available to those with home gardens, we believe it should be available to everyone. That’s what we’re building with Farmshelf.

Indoor Farming Reduces Water Usage 

By 2050, over half of the world’s population will live in areas where the freshwater supply is under pressure. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water. 

Traditional farming methods use inefficient irrigation systems that deplete and sometimes pollute the freshwater supply. As the global population rises, the evolution of growing food is a necessity if we want to sustainably feed the world and protect its water supply. With innovative hydroponic systems, a method of growing crops in a more-controlled water-based solution without the use of soil, growers are making strides in water-efficient farming. 

Farmshelf technology takes hydroponics one step further. This smart indoor farm automatically delivers water and nutrients to your plants from a built-in water tank, giving your crops exactly what they need to grow. By optimizing water consumption, it uses 90 percent less water than traditional growing methods. And yet, your crops will be fuller in flavor and ultra rich in quality. 

Now that’s something to talk about.

Indoor Farming Converts Miles into Feet

It’s key to consider the effect food transportation has on your meal, and the environment. The transportation of food has become essential for its consumption but often at the expense of natural resources. On average, produce travels 1,500 miles to get from the farm to your plate.

While Farm to Table restaurants and “Eat Local” slogans have been helpful in educating people about where their food is coming from, we can further reduce the mileage of our food by growing food at home. In doing so, we can cut down on the emissions caused by the trucks transporting food, the resources used to farm it, and the waste at every stage of the process.

Beyond the environmental advantages, growing food at home means fresher and oftentimes more delicious and nutritious produce right at your fingertips instead of right off a truck. Crops that travel from those far-away farms were once fresh but degrade throughout the shipping process and pass through people and places to reach you. Because of this, home grown produce is more nutritious. Many of us have never laid eyes on a fresh head of Red Leaf lettuce or smelled the scent of Amethyst basil growing in our very own kitchen, let alone tasted it. For most, the farm is counties, if not states away. A freshly harvested Farmshelf crop, on the other hand, is not only more convenient as it’s just steps away, but its flavor is unmatched. 

Start Indoor Farming and Consider Farmshelf

When it comes to setting up your own indoor hydroponic garden or farm, there are plenty of options you can choose from, including small countertop units designed to grow just one crop (typically herbs or microgreens) at a time to systems that are fully integrated into your kitchen.

A plug-and-play system like Farmshelf, however, is for those who are interested in the benefits of growing at home but lack the know-how or time – as no green thumb is required. Thanks to the smart indoor farm, growers just sow the seed pods shipped to their door, turn on the power switch and connect the system to WiFi. A fully automated process then takes control to monitor crops for water level, pH and temperature. Also, because it is a self-contained unit with its own refillable water tank, you can set up in any room of your home.

An Indoor Farming Future

The availability of fresh, nutritious produce is something we might take for granted, but there is a prospect of food shortages as the global population reaches some nine billion in 2050. Indoor farming is a positive step in securing a reliable food source, with the added benefit that it removes much of the uncertainty and risk from raising crops traditionally and the miles they take to get to your table. Farmshelf’s produce yield allows you to grow enough healthy and delicious greens to feed your whole family. And that’s something to celebrate.