Imagine walking into a grocery store, walking to the back, and plucking your tomatoes right off the vine.
While it looks just like any industrial park, anywhere in the U.S., inside of this particular one is a small wonder. Walk inside, through the unfurnished offices, and you’ll enter a vast room — 120 feet by 120 feet, 30 feet tall — full of towers of giant tubs, where everything is glowing pink. Welcome to Green Sense Farms.
“Green Sense Farms is the largest commercial indoor vertical farm in the U.S,” explains Robert Colangelo, the company’s founding farmer. “We’re also the largest user of LED grow lights. We specialize in growing fresh, nutritious leafy greens — lettuces, microgreens, herbs, and vegetables — and we distribute those locally in a five state area: Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.”
The farm shows a new type of agricultural experimentation: Taking plants out of their volatile outdoor environments and moving them inside, to a controlled situation where farmers can assure they’re growing the best produce in the most sustainable way possible, beyond the grasps of crop disease, drought, and extreme weather.
“We’ve created groundhog day in there,” Colangelo said. “Every day is the same.”
Dr. Dickson Despommier, an indoor farming devoteeand Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University, says that when it comes to growing food inside, “you have to treat crops as you treat patients in the intensive care unit at a hospital.” While on the one hand that notion rightfully causes alarm, Despommier means it as a good thing.