Urban Seed – an urban farming company creating a new food supply chain for the Las Vegas Valley – is growing plants using a hybrid aeroponics system, the process of growing plants vertically in a fog environment. This method uses 90% less water than traditional farming and 40% less than hydroponic systems
“There’s no topsoil and there’s no water,” Dr. Suzanne Stone, director of horticulture and research explained. “We’re growing without soil and we’re growing with a closed-loop system of water, so all of the nutrients and water [are] recycled. The plants take what they need, we take the water back, clean it, sterilize it and get it back into circulation.”
Currently, there are two greenhouses in Vegas, with plans to expand to at least ten within the next year. The produce is grown on a modular frame, making the Urban Seed method easy to assemble and adapt to different farming scales, essentially making it possible to move the farm closer to the table. Urban Seed is growing fruits, vegetables, herbs and microgreens, including year-round cabbage, cucumbers, basil, cilantro, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, melons and strawberries.
“We’re going to be 1.9 miles away from some of the plates we’re servicing,” states Rachel Wenman, co-founder and vice president of Urban Seed. “Las Vegas feeds 40 million people annually—our guests are consuming [great quantities of food], and we’re figuring out solutions to make it sustainable. Traditional farms can get around 50 lettuce heads in about 24 square feet. We’re able to do 550 lettuce heads in 24 square feet. Our yield per square feet means we don’t have to use a ton of land.”
The company has also launched the Urban Seed Foundation, which focuses on working with community partners to relieve hunger needs and food deserts in Nevada.