The role of indoor growing, ranging from small indoor vertical farms to large greenhouses, is vital to sustaining the world’s food supply. Controlled Environmental Agriculture is essential for growing crops in underused spaces, rooftops, and rows of vertical gardens. Seizing upon this vital resource, Tinia Pina, Founder & CEO of ReNuble, has taken up the challenge to help this idea scale. With a best-in-class nutrient and growing medium, Pina’s company has created organic compounds sourced from food waste for sterile, technology-driven hydroponic and soilless systems.
For the dynamic Pina, her vision for what became Re-Nuble started more than six years ago in the New York school system. “I also saw our outreach educational classes for this program were from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.,” she recalled in an interview with The Spoon. “I noticed what the kids were bringing for class for lunch, and those options were very processed. With that diet, you see a direct impact on their level of attention. And I felt, from a systemic perspective, that will immediately impact the type of productivity and retention of the information we’re teaching. So overall, I always felt that people with better access to nutrition are spending more time being able to be fully immersed and retaining the information. And they are calling less out of work with fewer sick days.”
The genesis of Re-Nuble’s solution, Pina goes on to explain, came from her observation of how food waste was disposed of. “At that time, New York was spending $77 million to export its food waste to China, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. And that’s simply because we don’t have the composting infrastructure to handle it,” Pina said.” I wondered how we could make food waste a consistent alternative for conventional synthetic fertilizers by doing it for soils or hydroponic systems. So, we focused on using food waste as a viable alternative for chemical fertilizers in indoor grow environments.”
Specific to its product lines, Re-Nuble’s Head of Business Development & Strategy, Riyana Razalee, said in a company press release, “CEA is a large part of the future of farming, and so, we have to prioritize its role in decarbonization. Solutions need to address the gamut of the food supply chain, decarbonizing as many parts of it as possible. This vital issue is what our team is focused on”. The company states that for every acre of an indoor farm that uses Re-Nuble’s organic hydroponic nutrient, Away We Grow, the company can remove up to 5 metric tons of carbon emissions annually. That’s approximately one home’s energy use for a year.
In addition, its grow medium, ReNu Terra, supports the anti-peat movement. Companies, activists, and governments are demanding the reduction of drained peatlands. When farmed for agriculture needs, peat changes from a carbon sink to a greenhouse gas emitter, releasing approximately 1.9 gigatonnes of CO2e annually. This amounts to 0.4 billion gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for a year.
Pina said Re-Nuble has three customer segments now. First is the consumer market. Away We Grow could be part of a kit offered for an indoor growing system. “Consumers are eager to find more environmentally and people and animal-friendly solutions,” Re-Nuble’s CEO noted. The second segment is commercial farms such as Gotham Greens. The third, she said, is “disruptive farms.” For the last group, she stated, “There are severe supply shortages globally, and so there’s a lot of urgencies to find something that could be more sustainable, but even more importantly, something that they can afford.”