Battling the drought 'one dish' at time: Local restaurants launch water-wise strategies 8/17/2015 12:00:00 AM by Nancy Luna
Urban Produce in Irvine is taking vertical farming to the extreme.
The year-old hydroponic farm is inside a 5,800-square-foot warehouse space. Artificial lighting shines on dozens of 25-foot-tall aluminum towers capable of producing 16 acres of food – from wasabi bok choy micro greens to wheatgrass.
When operating at capacity, the hydroponic farm uses less than 100 gallons of water a day. Recently, the company started experimenting with a Skywell system, which extracts moisture from the air to create fresh drinking water.
Urban Produce uses roughly 93 percent less water than a conventional farm of the same size.
“Our ultimate goal is to be completely off the grid,” Chief Executive Ed Horton said.
The company began distributing its specialty produce and micro greens earlier this year. Its clients: Albertsons, Fresh & Easy, Gelson’s, Cucina Enoteca in Newport Beach, Greenleaf Chophouse in Costa Mesa, The Dock in Newport Beach and My Cuppa Juice in Lake Forest.
Horton’s business plan calls for opening 100 “urban farms” over the next five years across the U.S. “The installation of the Skywell unit advances our efforts toward water conservation and positions us at the forefront of sustainable agriculture,” he said.
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