NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez yesterday toured Newark-based AeroFarms, the world’s largest indoor vertical farm on the latest stop of his statewide Jersey Jobs Tour to highlight how new technology and innovation is revolutionizing one of America’s oldest industries, while creating jobs and new economic opportunities for New Jerseyans.
“AeroFarms is a shining example of creating new economic opportunities and local jobs through high-tech innovation and the latest science, and they are doing it right here in New Jersey. They are changing the way we think of traditional farming and redefining the Garden State,” said Sen. Menendez. “It was hard to believe that a farm could grow in an old steel mill in an urban center like Newark until I saw it with my own eyes. Not only do they hire locally, they are delivering fresh, healthy produce to underserved communities and urban food deserts, proving that being environmentally responsible is also good for business. We need to make sure our federal policies keep up with innovation and changing industries to incentivize creating the jobs of tomorrow and protect our economy’s competitive edge on the global stage.”
Headquartered in Newark, AeroFarms currently operates nine facilities across the world, including four in Newark, with plans to build its largest one yet in Camden. In a few short years, it has grown from a small start-up of eight to a thriving company of over 120 employees.
“We are honored that Senator Menendez is visiting AeroFarms’ facilities to see first-hand our world-leading vertical farming operations headquartered in New Jersey, and we appreciate his interest in our work,” said AeroFarms Co-Founder and CEO David Rosenberg. “As a mission-driven company and certified B-Corp, AeroFarms is proud to partner with local New Jersey grassroots organizations to create jobs, provide fair wages and promote a positive sense of community while empowering our workers to develop their skills and abilities. We look forward to continuing our positive working relationship with U.S. and state legislators as we ensure New Jersey and the U.S. lead the world in high-tech, vertical farming."
The senator toured AeroFarms’ main facility in Newark’s Ironbound where primarily leafy field greens, like watercress, arugula and kale, are grown without sun or soil in a fully-controlled indoor environment, utilizing its patented aeroponic growing system for faster harvest cycles, predictable results, superior food safety and less environmental impact. The process relies on plant-specific, engineered LED lighting and misting, using 95% less water than field farming, 40% less than hydroponics, and zero pesticides, to grow the same seed in half the time as the traditional field farmer, leading to 130 times more productivity per square foot than a commercial field farm.
Urban, vertical farming, an industry that has boomed in recent years, is largely exempt from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, which have historically tailored available resources to traditional rural field farming. The most recent federal Farm Bill enacted in 2014 expires in September.
Sen. Menendez plans to visit each of the state’s 21 counties in the coming weeks and months to meet with business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, students, and local leaders to discuss how to drive innovation, create greater economic opportunity, and deliver prosperity to the people of New Jersey.
Sen. Menendez’s Jersey Jobs Tour will include legislative initiatives, roundtable discussions, tours of local businesses, visits to new job training centers and other events focused on New Jersey’s diverse economy – from North Jersey’s bustling shipping industry and South Jersey’s cranberry bogs and blueberry fields to innovative sectors like healthcare, information technology, and the Jersey Shore’s thriving tourism, recreation, and fishing industries.
Throughout the senator’s travels across New Jersey, he’ll be keeping a Jersey Jobs Tour Travelblog with behind the scenes footage and photos, social media feeds of events, and full recaps of visits.