Our past blog articles have focused mainly on families or individuals and the benefits of eating healthy fruits and vegetables. We’ve mentioned using the Eden Grow Towers in this context, and how the towers can provide a level of food security on a personal basis. But the towers can be a workhorse solution for a highly profitable growing operation as well. This article explores this idea at a high level, to help those of you who may be considering starting just such a growing operation business.
The timing for starting or expanding a commercial growing operation seems excellent at this moment in history, as we witness the exposure of our supply chain vulnerabilities, the shortages of fertilizer and food coming out of Russia, China stopping their exports of certain food and farming resources, and the Grand Solar Minimum that will begin to affect our entire planet’s food production capabilities for several years. The need for a more robust food production solution, on a distributed basis, at the community level, is greater than it has ever been. Just as industrial farming and synthetic fertilizers ushered in an incredible period of prosperity for millions of people around the world starting in the 1920s and up to today, Farming 2.0 (as we call it) can help address the coming shortages by using advanced technology to make indoor farming simple, more productive, more efficient, and less labor-intensive. At Eden, we want to put the power to grow more food into the hands of more people, in a distributed fashion that doesn’t require hundreds of acres.
Perhaps it would be good to look back at where Eden has come from. The original idea that drove Eden’s founders, Bart Womack and Jeff Raymond, was creating a system that would produce enough food for a family of four or for a crew of astronauts on Mars. The system had to be extremely efficient with water, nutrients, and power, require minimal knowledge of growing, and require very little time to maintain. After all, families and astronauts both have better things to do, and plants don’t mind being ignored as long as they get fed and watered.
The towers were designed with scalability in mind from the beginning.
With the goal of providing all of the required daily calories a family of four would need, without any additional resources, it was understood that one tower on its own would not be sufficient to provide a harvest every day. Also, different plants require different amounts of vertical space to grow in, so having only one tower does limit the variety of plants you can grow. So, the modular approach allows any number of towers to be utilized in a building block method, to produce a little or a lot of food. Now let’s look at how the Grow Tower provides a great tool for anyone looking to start a business cultivating food or other plants.
Some basic information about the Grow Towers will help understand the full picture.
How the Eden Tower Can Work for Your Business
From a business perspective, a Triple Deck grow tower makes the most sense. Of all the different configurations (Single Deck, Double Deck, Tall Deck), the Triple Deck provides the greatest number of grow pods per square foot. Using a 2-foot spacing between towers, each tower will require 24 sq. ft. With each Triple Deck grow tower being capable of growing 96 plants, that’s ¼ square foot per plant. Pretty efficient use of space. And because the towers are equipped with wheels, they can be placed close together and then rolled apart whenever necessary for better access around the tower.
The 60-gallon reservoir in the Single and Double tower design allows you to daisy-chain multiple towers together if desired, so they can share a single reservoir of nutrient solution. It is possible to connect between 15 and 33 towers to one 60-gallon reservoir (depending on the number of decks and the type and maturity of the plants grown.) So this simplifies the maintenance and upkeep significantly. At the same time, the standard quick connect fittings allow you to utilize an external tank of any size and connect even more towers together. Or you can maintain separate systems for added isolation from any potential nutrient solution contaminant, and also to customize each tower’s nutrient recipe to optimize for specific plant needs.
All parts that may require periodic maintenance are easy to maintain or service. The high quality, long life pump and LED lights require no attention or maintenance.
Now let’s look deeper at the features of the Eden Grow Tower that really fit well with a commercial growing operation.
The highly automated operation means each tower only requires 5 minutes a day for routine inspection and maintenance.
A single person working 5 minutes per day on each tower can manage 96 towers by themselves. A business owner and one employee could spend half their day managing half as many towers, with the rest of the time devoted to harvesting, packaging and shipping fresh produce.
Nutrient solution, watering schedule, and other variables are "set and forget", but can also be easily adjusted for maximizing yields from a wide range of highly-valuable crops.
The system is so simple, the towers can run for days and weeks without any intervention or maintenance.
For a business operation, scalability is a valuable feature. Any grow system that makes it easy to expand a little, or a lot, is going to score well in a competitive analysis. Each Grow Tower is a complete standalone unit, like an appliance, so all that is required to add to an existing system is additional electrical power and the space to put more towers. And placing towers 2 feet apart means they require only 24 sq. ft. per tower, making it possible to put 100 towers in a 2,400 sq. ft. space (e.g., 40 ft. x 60 ft.). That’s a lot of available growing space. Using the Triple Deck for the purposes of this discussion, that would give you the space to grow up to 9,600 plants simultaneously (96 grow pods in the ET300 Triple Deck Grow Tower).
Because each tower is a module in a system of similar modules, any number of towers can be grouped together to grow a particular crop. These groups or clusters of towers can be reconfigured at any time (depending on harvest cycles), so, for example, you could switch from half of your towers growing Crop A and half growing Crop B, to a fourth of the towers each growing Crops A, B, C and D. This makes it easy to quickly react to changing market conditions, like when a certain specific crop becomes wildly popularity, or shifting to take advantage of seasonal favorites that are in high demand at certain times of the year. Or let’s say you discover a new restaurant customer who wants a steady supply of a particular herb or special veggie ingredient and is willing to sign a contract to buy a guaranteed amount every week? Switch over some towers – or buy more – to deliver the desired product for your new business partners.
5. Good Citizenship / Good Stewards
Any indoor space with temperature controls and electricity can accommodate the grow towers. Unused buildings that are targets for government-sponsored urban revitalization can easily be repurposing as Grow Centers, making maximum use of limited grant dollars. Warehouses in declining neighborhoods can be converted into living grow spaces and job centers. Vacant strip center storefronts and malls struggling to maintain full occupancy can become regular stops for shoppers needing healthy, fresh, and delicious ingredients for dinner.
Job training – the towers require minimal skill to operate, but the wonders – and mysteries – of cultivating plants for food, medicinal purposes, or just sheer beauty, provide a rich opportunity for investigation and experimentation. Research requires discipline, care, attention to detail, and integrity – all qualities you want to develop in a good employee.
Every business needs to differentiate itself somehow to gain and keep loyal customers. Having a number of towers, all exactly the same, that allow for controlled experimentation, may be invaluable in discovering a particular recipe of lighting, temperature, and/or nutrient solution formulation that becomes a game-changer for your business success. Imagine figuring out how to produce the sweetest strawberries or the most aromatic herbs in town, consistently. This opens up incredible possibilities, and may give you greater financial success, allowing you to pour back into supporting humanitarian causes in your local community.
The Grow Towers offer a powerful tool for any small or medium size grow business, allowing you to accelerate your time to harvest and increase total yield versus conventional farming. You can be part of the solution and meet the food needs of those in remote or underserved areas and food deserts where supplies of fresh produce are limited or nonexistent. All while knowing you are providing the finest health and nutritional solutions for people in your community.
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Blaine Comeaux is Vice President of Business Development for Eden Grow Systems. In this role, Blaine oversees all aspects of Eden’s sales and marketing efforts. Blaine believes the food we eat affects every part of our lives and wants to create ways to ensure everyone has access to healthy food choices. Blaine worked in the energy industry for over 30 years where he promoted high tech solutions to customers around the world. He has a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering, is an avid suburban gardener, and now, in his Career 2.0, is directing his technical skills and experience in market research and product promotion to his true passion of automating the growing process.