Fifth Season, Pittsburgh, Pa., announced plans for its first highly efficient, commercial-scale indoor vertical farm in Braddock, Pa., which will open in early 2020.
Fifth Season, originally founded as RoBotany Ltd., was incubated at Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU) Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, an alliance of CMU's business, robotics and other schools focused on fostering innovation. The company raised over $35 million led by Drive Capital, Columbus, Ohio, and other private investors.
The company's 60,000-square-foot farm is said to set a new vertical agriculture standard for efficient, safe and sustainable production of pesticide-free leafy greens and herbs in urban communities.
Fifth Season’s leafy greens are sold at local retailers, such as Giant Eagle and Whole Foods Market, and at local Pittsburgh restaurants such as Superior Motors, honeygrow and Kahuna.
"The goal through our first three years of development was to prove we could bring fresh food to urban customers at prices competitive with conventionally grown produce," says Austin Webb, co-founder and CEO. "We have developed fully integrated, proprietary technology to completely control the hydroponic growing process and optimize key factors such as energy, labor usage and crop output. The result is a vertical farm design that has over twice the efficiency and grow capacity of traditional vertical farms. Our unprecedented low costs set a new standard for the future of the industry."
The farm's ideal growing environment will deliver over 500,000 pounds of lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula and herbs year-round from its 25,000-square-foot grow room during the first full year of operation. The facility is partially solar-powered, and requires 95% less water.