A peek inside the high-tech Detroit farm where they grow these salads
Detroit is known as the Motor City, we build cars, but a new business has sprung up in Detroit and it’s all about the greens.
Strolling the aisles of your local grocery store, you might have stumbled upon one of Planted Detroit’s lively salads. With funny names honoring Detroit neighborhoods, you might have guessed the salads were made in Detroit, but did you know they were grown here, too?
Yes, there is a farm in Detroit that grows tons of vegetables for local restaurants and makes ready-to-eat salads, but this is not your typical farm. It’s very high tech and everything inside doesn’t work much differently than in a factory.
“Planted Detroit is a vertical hydroponic farm,” said Tom Adamczyk, the founder and CEO of Planted Detroit. “We grow baby vegetables, lettuce, microgreens and herbs.”
The best way to understand what they mean is to see it for yourself. Check out the video above for the full tour.
The first step is still the same as a normal farm, you have to sow the seeds, they just do it the high tech way. Bowls filled with soil, labeled with the date and what will be planted in them, are sent through a machine that punches a hole in the dirt and fills it with the correct seeds. After you’ve had a drink, the seeds are either allowed to germinate in complete darkness or in some light, whichever works best for the particular plant.
Once they sprout, they are placed in a light purple room to grow. The room takes on this color due to the horticultural lights used. According to Simon Yevzelman, director of food safety and biosafety, the plants prefer the red and blue wavelengths of light to grow, so they only give them energy to save energy.
But they not only imitate sunlight, but also the wind. They installed evaporative cooling pads that look essentially like long strips of corrugated cardboard. Water is pumped to the tops of the pads to drain them down when the temperature in the room gets too high. This removes energy from the air (to evaporate the water), which lowers the temperature and creates a gentle breeze. It is essentially temperature, humidity and wind control rolled into one.
On these mobile shelves, the plants are piled high in order to grow. Each species has its own recipe for light and water so that it grows and tastes best. Data is collected at every step.
The next step is the harvest. They have a special harvester that works for some of the species they grow, others that don’t get very large are cut by hand. From there, the greens either go into ready-to-eat salads or are sold in bulk to local restaurants.
They only have about 30 different types of greens, ranging from romaine to flavorful mustard greens like frills. This makes for some very dynamic salads when it comes to taste. They love to top their salads with fresh herbs such as coriander, basil and dill.
You can buy the salads from local grocery stores like the new Rivertown Meijer or directly from Planted Detroit. They even do Uber Eats and Grubhub. Salads cost between $ 10 and $ 14, are all vegan, and most are gluten-free as well.
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