Could Farming Be an NYC Growth Sector?

Bushwick, Brooklyn, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you thinking of farming. But that’s where Jason Green, CEO and cofounder of Edenworks, along with a team of his farmers, produce locally grown greens and fish for New York City. Together they built software and farming systems to do so, creating a hydroponic farming operation that the company claims uses 90% less water and energy than traditional farming.

Investment in agricultural technology reached a record high in 2015, almost doubling to $4.6 billion from $2.36 billion in 2014, according to an AgFunder “Year In Review” report. New York was the second most popular investment destination for the industry, snagging $483 million in investment activity for the year.

Edenworks has benefited from this surge in investment activity. The start-up has raised $1.3m from venture capital firms and angel investors so far, and plans to expand even further, Green said. So far, some early adopters have been using Edenworks’ produce. The food delivery service Maple, for example, has used basil from Edenworks, said Soa Davies, chief executive of Maple. “The flavor is so much more intense than conventionally grown basil,” Davies said, “which gives all of our pestos and salads with basil an extra boost of flavor.”

Inside the Edenworks premises on Johnson Avenue is a small office dotted with computers as well as a big silver contraption on the rooftop that houses the produce—microgreens, herbs, and fish. The building belongs to Green’s father-in law, who has run an iron workshop  in Bushwick for more than thirty years, Green said.

“He had this big, beautiful, reinforced concrete roof,” Green said, “that was just waiting for somebody to do something crazy on it.”