Urban agriculture has a new hope, and its name is PodPonics. Based in Atlanta, the startup is pursuing a new kind of recycling: transform old shipping containers into miniature hydroponic farms that can be used to grow food anywhere. Started by Matt Liotta in 2010, PodPonics is already supplying about 200 pounds of leafy greens a week using six converted containers. Each “pod” can produce about one acre’s worth of produce in only 320 square feet. PodPonics crops use 90% less water than traditional farms, no pesticides, less fertilizer, and go from harvest to your plate in just a matter of hours!
This is just the beginning. PodPonics has 16 new pods being built on land at the Atlanta International Airport, raised $725,000+ in private investment, and is gaining partners at all levels of their operation. From LED lighting specialists to restaurants, everyone wants a piece of PodPonics. Check out Matt Liotta interviewed on CNN in the video below. Recently I spoke with PodPonics’ number two guy, Dan Backhaus. He painted me a picture of the company’s future, and showed me some great actual pictures (see them below). PodPonics’ version of urban agriculture wants to create local, sustainable, fresh food that also tastes better. Not bad for an old shipping container.
For those familiar with hydroponic farming techniques, PodPonics is pretty much what you’d expect. An old shipping container is retrofitted with up to five tiers of growing platforms where beds of lettuce are grown with their roots in water, not soil. Nutrients are added as needed, and banks of LED lights shine overhead. From here, PodPonics starts to innovate. They’ve added monitors for temperature, humidity, pH, and carbon dioxide levels so that these variables can be optimized for maximum growing potential. Many factors can be adjusted remotely using an iPhone interface. Their LED lights can change spectrum slightly over the course of day to stimulate different growing phases in the plants. You want the right combination of factors at the right time to produce the best lettuce. And that’s what PodPonics does for ten different leafy greens like arugula, cressida, and watercress.
PodPonics is primarily selling its produce to local restaurants at the moment, and has received rave reviews for the taste and consistency of their lettuce. Have they found a better formula for growing these greens, is eating produce just hours old simply much better for our tastebuds, or is it just hype?....