The goal is to use the forthcoming farm to supply Emirates Flight Catering clients, which include the Emirates airline as well as 105 others and 25 airport lounges.
“By investing to build and operate the world’s largest vertical farming facility, we secure our own supply chain of high quality and locally-sourced fresh vegetables, while significantly reducing our environmental footprint,” Saeed Mohammed, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Flight Catering, said in a press release. “We are pleased to partner with Crop One and together we look forward to delivering a best-in-class product and excellent value to our customers and stakeholders.”
The 130,000 square foot farm will be a fully-controlled environment that grows produce free of herbicides and pesticides. Construction of the farm will begin in November 2018; the first products will be leafy greens and are slated for a December 2019 delivery. According to the release, the farm’s inaugural Dubai location will mean fresher produce for the airlines and other Emirates Flight Catering clients, as it can be delivered within hours of harvesting.
Crop One’s indoor farming platform, with which people can use the system’s controlled environment hydroponics to grow all manner of produce, is probably best known as the technology behind Massachusetts-based FreshBox Farms. The company uses old shipping containers to house its farms, and the “weather” conditions inside each container are optimized for a particular crop — spinach, kale, or whatever else the grower wants to produce. The farms are actually equipment agnostic, which might be one reason FreshBox is one of the only gross-margin positive indoor commercial farming ventures right now.
Indoor farming, meanwhile, is expected to account for 50 percent of leafy green production over the next 10 years. Crop One and FreshBox are joined by the likes of Gotham Greens, Square Roots, and Bowery, not to mention numerous up-and-coming companies and projects across many cities.
Airplanes, of course, aren’t exactly hotbeds for fresh produce; we’re lucky they serve anything even resembling lettuce. But as the cost of vertical farming comes down and consumer demand for fresh, healthy food spreads into all areas of life, that lack of decent leafy greens might change sooner than we think.