Q. Where can we buy your produce?
A. ‘Local Roots produce can be purchased in 41 grocery stores throughout California. Stay tuned for an interactive map on our website in June 2018.
Q. Do you wash your produce?
A. By using controlled–TerraFarms, our produce isn't exposed to harmful chemicals or pathogens that you find in conventional growing operations...It's not only disgusting, but it strips nutrients from your produce and reduces shelf life.
That said—a light rinse at home doesn’t hurt, just before eating.
Q. What can you grow?
A. Virtually anything! We started with leafy greens because they’re super nutritious and highly perishable - ideal for growing locally!
Q. Do you use GMOs?
A. No. All our products are Certified Non-GMO.
Q. Are your farms safe?
A. Yes. By controlling the environment we eliminate the plants’ exposure to harmful chemicals, harmful bacteria and other pathogens. We also operate under strict procedures monitoring food safety every step of the way. We are Certified PrimusGFS, one of the most rigorous third party food safety audits in the world.
Q. Even those purple lights are safe?
A. Especially those purple lights! The sun emits white light, which is made up of all colors of the rainbow — from red to green to blue — plus all combinations in between. Plants require only specific wave ranges (or colors) to activate photosynthesis. Every type of plant needs something slightly different, but the sun overcomes this need by providing a lot of every type of wave.
Enter our purple lights. The light emitted is exactly the same as light coming from the sun. We can digitally control the wave spectrum and intensity to provide our crops precisely the light they need to maximize their growth at different stages of their growth. What’s more? We can use light to bring out certain taste and texture profiles in our crops.
Q. Do you keep the lights on all the time?
A. No. Scientists have known for a long time that plants need their time in the dark to rest and recover just like us.
Q. How do you compare to outdoor farming? How is it different?
A. Almost everything is the same. We use the exact same seeds, exact same minerals and nutrients, and exact same light wavelengths to activate photosynthesis. The main differences are that the light is provided by LED lights instead of the sun and we have removed soil so that plants can directly access dissolved nutrients in the water (what they use anyways!)
- We grow plants 2x as fast
- We grow plants with much higher nutrient densities
Q. How do you use up to 99% less water than conventional farms?
A. In contrast to conventional farms, evaporation and soil seepage do not remove water from our farms. As the water runs through our farm, any water that’s not taken up by plant roots is recaptured, re-filtered, and recirculated into our system. If the humidity in the farm gets too high, we recapture water from the air using our HVAC system and run it back through the filtering system.
Water leaves our farms in only two ways: 1) in the form of plants or 2) as minimal waste when we have to clean our farms between crop cycles.
Q. Do you use fish? Is your system Aquaponics?
A. Nope. While we very much appreciate the hard work of aquaponics farmers, we investigated the technology in detail and decided to pass for now.
Q. Why LED lights?
A. LED lights offer us the best control over wave spectrum and light intensity so we can create customized “light recipes” for each crop. They are also the most efficient light widely available, meaning we can grow for the lowest costs. We value continuous improvements of our system and will continue to integrate cutting-edge lighting solutions into our farms as lighting technologies continue to advance.
Q. Why do you love shipping containers?
A. We love shipping containers because they are:
- Easy to transport
- Readily available
Q. Can I purchase a farm?
A. No. We do not sell our TerraFarms to the general public, but rather co-locate them near food distribution centers and grow the produce under our brand.
Q. What would be required to take these farms completely off grid?
A. The technologies already exist and we are working on integrating these right now.
Currently, putting panels on the roof of our farm would provide less than 10% of our total power needs. This isn’t a problem in wide open spaces where we could deploy a large array but is much tougher in the urban environments where we currently locate. We are excited to see solar technologies continue to develop and imagine that within five years efficiencies in both solar and LED technologies will enable us to power the entire farm from the roof!
The other consideration when moving off grid is water. Luckily for us, several technologies exist that enable us to extract water from the air using moisture harvesters. Soon we will realize our vision of integrating solar panels, cutting-edge batteries, and moisture harvesters to enable rapid deployment in developing countries, aid relief regions, and front-line military deployments.
Q. How do you decrease food miles?
A. Simple! We decrease food miles by placing our farms as close as possible to our customers. This means locating in urban environments and next to distribution facilities for large buyers. We are committed to never trucking our produce more than 100 miles.
Q. Do your farms work in cold weather? Deserts?
A. Part of the reason we like refrigerated shipping containers is that the outside temperature barely affects the internal temperatures. Because the LEDs give off heat, growing in very cold climates is actually easy for us! The lights naturally heat the interior of the farm and we can pipe in cold air from outside as need be to regulate the farm’s internal temperature. In warm climates, we have to run our HVAC air conditioners to cool our farms off inside.