We got to chat with Edenworks co-founder Jason Green and team at their Bushkwick headquarters about how they are using aquaphonic vertical farming to create responsibly and locally grown microgreens and how they are innovating indoor urban agriculture at large.
Tell us about Edenworks
Edenworks develops and operates indoor farms. On the front end, we sell a line of ready to eat packaged salads through amazing partners like Whole Foods. On the back end, we are an agricultural technology company that's developed an end to end system for farming in a cultivated indoor ecosystems.
What led you, Ben, and Matt to cofound Edenworks?
The three themes that brought us together as cofounders were a love of food, an obsessiveness with craft -- a curiosity and meticulousness about creating functional objects, and a shared sense of purpose that comes from doing the right thing.
You mentioned that you have a line of microgreen personal salads. What are microgreens?
Microgreens are the first sets of leaves that plants grow. They tend to be more intensely flavored but more delicately textured than older plants, like baby and mature greens.
Your Microgreens are grown using aquaponic vertical farming. Tell us more about this process.
Aquaponics is the cocultivation of aquatic animals and plants. Our fish generate manure, which is naturally broken down by a microbiome of soil bacteria into the nutrients that our vegetables need. The vegetables filter the water as they grow, then clean water is sent back to the fish, and around it goes.
In a vertical farming system, we grow rows of plants stacked one above the other under LED lighting. What we are basically doing is taking a complete ecosystem and putting it inside the perfect spring day, every day.
What impact could this technique have on the future of farming?
From a technology and business perspective, Edenworks and the indoor agriculture industry are proving that you can grow locally, at scale, year round. The result of that is affordable fresh vegetables and fish while creating technology jobs alongside living wage manufacturing and agriculture jobs inside cities.
Is this process more environmentally friendly than traditional farming techniques?
On the produce side, Edenworks and many indoor farms use 95% less water than traditional farming and are pesticide free. What's unique about our growing process is that we do not have any discharge or runoff from our farm, which has become a major issue both for drinking water in agricultural areas, as well as for natural ecosystems.
On the fish side, we grow sustainable protein without any antibiotics or hormones. Fish are much more efficient than terrestrial animals. Our fish will convert a pound of feed into nearly three quarters of a pound of body weight, which is 4.5 times more efficient than beef.
What do your microgreens taste like and what is your favorite way to incorporate them into a meal?
I’d describe our microgreens as tasting ‘essential.’ Mustard greens taste like spicy brown mustard, radish greens taste like sinus-clearing horseradish. Kale tastes familiar, but with a sweetness instead of the bitterness you’re used to. I generally build my breakfast and dinner around our micros, with hummus or eggs in the morning and fish or lentils at night.
Where can people find Edenworks products?
We are exclusively retailing at Whole Foods Market Williamsburg now, with a larger roll out to all of Whole Foods’ New York City stores later this year.
Since your headquarters are in Bushwick, what are some of your favorite places in the neighborhood? Our office watering hole has been Post No BIlls, although there is a growing Tradesman contingent. For coffee, we go to CUP. When we’re feeling fancy we’ll lunch at Newtown, Bunna, or Falansai.
Try Edenworks Microgreens at our Earth Day Celebration at Space Ninety 8 on Saturday, April 22nd from 12-3pm.
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Photos: Heidi Lee