Hydroponic lettuce
(Image credit: Babylon Micro-Farms video)

At Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia, restaurant guests eat locally grown greens. Very locally grown.

With the help of a startup called Babylon Micro-Farms, the resort converted an unused outbuilding into a tiny indoor farm, where trays of leafy greens grow stacked on shelves.

“That farm is all of 300 square feet,” says Babylon’s co-founder Alexander Olesen.

His company makes modular units for growing greens, herbs, and edible flowers.

“We’re growing crops in water instead of soil, and as a result, you can grow plants two to three times faster using 90% less water,” Olesen says. “So it’s a really sustainable and efficient way of growing food.”

But he says most people lack the skills to start a hydroponic farm without help. So Babylon offers systems that remotely manage the LED lights, water, nutrients, and air flow for them. And an app alerts customers when it’s time to harvest.

“A lot of our technology is around automating the growth process,” Olesen says.

He says it’s a high-tech, scalable platform that makes it easy for people to grow their own food. And that can be good for the climate, because it reduces – or eliminates – the miles traveled from farm to fork.

Editor’s note: On 3/17/20, Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver issued a public health emergency order limiting restaurants to no more than 10 customers at a time.

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Reporting credit: Karen Lewis/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Food & Agriculture