Farm of the future opens in Orange

Photo by Javon Ross
Amin Jadavji, right, speaking to Mayor Dwayne Warren while inside the Elevate Farms facility where leafy green vegetables will be grown inside in a facility that is 100 times more productive than traditional methods.

ORANGE, NJ — Elevate Farms opened its first U.S. facility in Orange on Tuesday, May 2.
“Be prepared to see the future once you get inside,” Amin Jadavji, CEO of Elevate Farms, said at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “It has been several years working on this site – it often takes longer than you hope, but a lot has been accomplished.”

According to the Toronto-based company, they grow local, sustainable, zero pesticides leafy greens vegetables that are “blockchain tracked” from seed to sale in proprietary, closed-loop, state-of-the-art vertical farming facilities.”

Their facilities create “ideal growing conditions” for plants, providing them with “precisely what they need at the right time with zero contamination” which creates produce 365 days a year, no matter the geographic location nor outside environmental conditions.

“What we do here is we produce over 100 pounds per square foot of greens. If you compare that to traditional fields, it is one or two pounds per square foot,” Jadavji said at the ceremony. “We are 100 times more productive than traditional agriculture, on top of that we use somewhere around 90 to 95 percent less water.”

Jadacji and Warren have been working with each other to bring this collaboration to Orange for close to a decade. Leaning on New Jerseys’ name and reputation as the “Garden State,” their partnership has led to this initiative making its way to the township.
“With the support of Mayor (Dwayne) Warren and the organizations and groups behind him, both in the state of New Jersey and in Orange with the mayor’s team, the idea of growing here in New Jersey is a reality,” Jadavji said. “New Jersey has a rich history of agriculture and in supporting food and biotechnology through Rutgers University and New Jersey Grows. You must be progressive to go into an agricultural place and try to build a farm, New Jersey has shown us that support.”

Jadavji discussed how this facility will bring fresh greens to New Jersey from the south without the immense travel requirements and CO2 emissions that they create.

“We are taking a product that is primarily grown in the southwest and growing it here, taking 3,500 miles out of transportation,” Jadavji said. “This single facility reduces about 200 metric tons of CO2 a year, just from transplant. This really is the future of where we are going with the world.”

Warren spoke about the partnership between Elevate farms and the township, he then invited public officials from across New Jersey to visit the facility soon.

“This is about entrepreneurship, it is about the environment, certainly it is about partnering with the township,” Warren said at the ceremony. “This is the first facility in all of America, they came to none other than Orange, New Jersey to make it happen. This will not be the first visit, as I am inviting our senate delegation all the way down to our governor and our council people to come here and see magic happen in the future.”

After the mayor cut the ribbon, employees and citizens were then able to tour the facility and learn the ins and outs of the facility and how greens get distributed from Jadavji himself.

“We are packing out greens in three-pound bags, all of which is going into food service,” Jadavji said inside the facility. “The customers that we have lined up are the two biggest food distributors in the United States. Every day when they run their deliveries, they would bring a truck and pick up whatever product we produce today and take it to their fridge overnight. Then they would repack and redistribute it to a restaurant walk-in refrigerator or grocery store.”

According to Elevate, their technology creates “staggering numbers in efficiency with regards to land and water conservation, labor savings and crop fields.” They are also able to grow commercial quantities of greens in locations where traditional agriculture is not feasible.

“The worlds’ resources are decreasing, our population is increasing, we feel technology and research need to keep up,” Jadavji said. “Elevate has the highest plant density we know of in the vertical farming space, we believe that with our tech, IP and 25 years of research, we will push forward to everyday consumers at wholesale market prices, something that no one is talking about. Getting food to actual consumers across the globe.”

The Elevate New Jersey facility measures 14,000 square feet, including 4,750 square feet of unmanned, fully autonomous, grow room space with processing, packaging and administration. The farm has a capacity to produce up to 11,000,000 plants annually.