Use of Hydroponic and LED Technology to Grow High Nutrient Lettuce, Spinach and Arugula in a Small, Urban, High Density, Indoor Farm

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Norwalk, CT 06850
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


In the industrial northeast there is an under-fulfilled, year round demand for fresh, locally grown produce. The demand is measured by the steady growth (13% per year nationally) of farmers? markets since 1995. This project will use innovative hydroponic and LED technologies to study and verify if high nutrient, high quality greens can be grown cost effectively in small, urban, high density, indoor farms. Test growing will focus on optimizing the light wavelengths (color) of low power LED grow lights and the growing times for multiple varieties of greens. Test marketing will be conducted to verify that there is a market for premium priced, high nutrient greens. The selling price and potential market size will be quantified. And, appropriate sales venues will be identified. Urban centers (cities) in the industrial northeast have a large inventory of under-utilized, structurally sound factory buildings which are of no economic value. These same cities have high levels of unemployment with some urban neighborhoods peaking at rates greater than 25%. If Phase I results demonstrate that small, urban, high density, indoor farms are viable, then available urban buildings and the associated available urban workforce will become assets in the creation of such farms. By repurposing derelict buildings into urban, indoor farms the economic health of cities will be rejuvenated both through tax roll restoration and through the creation of new, green, year-round jobs located in urban neighborhoods. The results of Phase I will set the parameters for a Phase II prototype farm.