Cityblooms has two different solutions and sets of customers, with unique farming technology for both.
First, we have created patented hydroponic micro-farming modules that can grow food year round, in any environment. Our customers for this solution are large companies. The micro-farms are modular, and can be installed on rooftops, in warehouses, parking lots, and any other nooks and crannies of an urban environment. The farming method uses significantly less water (90%) than traditional farming, and also enables food to be consumed within minutes to hours of harvest, enabling what we call “farm to fork in yards, not miles”. Many foods, such as micro-greens, lose their nutritional density within hours of being harvested. So this type of farming creates not only delicious, fresh food, but significantly more nutritious food as well. Our customers love having a sustainable farm on-site at their campus that grows ultra-fresh food for their employees. Who wouldn’t?
Second, we have created a proprietary technology platform that enables us to monitor and control the growing environment, as well as manage and track crop status, and farming operations. Our customers for this solution are small to mid-size farmers. Our technology is unique for a couple reasons. One – we can manage many farms and track what’s happening in terms of temperature, humidity, harvest sizes, nutrient levels, etc from a central location. And, we store all that data which allows us to optimize yields over time. Second – we have served food to employees in their company cafes, and therefore have had to pass Food Safety Audits. Our technology enables us to do fully digitized food safety certification, and is one of the few — if not the only — software platform that does both monitoring and control, as well as crop tracking and food safety certification. This is becoming increasingly important to our customers.
We absolutely have plans to expand. Our two largest farms are in Santa Cruz (Plantronics), and in Silicon Valley (a large public company where, each month, approximately 1,000 lbs of perfect basil is grown and served to employees via their cafe). We have recently made our technology available as a stand alone product, and that is now up and running at an academic institution, in an estate home in Woodside, and at a few different farms in Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Salinas. We have only recently made our technology platform available to farmers and plan to focus on expanding significantly in this area over the coming year.
Installing micro-farms is straightforward. The utmost attention has been paid to designing them so that they flat pack and can be economically shipped and readily installed. There are two types of growing modules. They are either enclosed (more controlled environment for more sensitive crops like micro-greens or lettuces), or open (less expensive and suitable for crops like peppers, chard, kale, tomatoes, and eggplant). One central reservoir, which controls the water flow, nutrient dispensing, and growing environment, can be attached to up to 10 growing modules. These modules can be daisy-chained in a straight-line, around corners, or in a cluster. All that is needed in an installation location is a water source, electrical outlet, and WiFi.
Installing our technology platform on a farm requires our placing sensors on the crops, irrigation lines, or whatever it is that needs monitoring. We also often install a LAN (Local Area Network) if the WiFi is spotty at the farm location, which it often is. That data is then collected and, in many cases, connected to a “Doser” (hardware device that dispenses nutrients to the crops). Finally, everything is remotely controlled (with some necessary fail-safe features) in a Command Module, which can be viewed on any device, or via a large flat panel display located centrally on the farm. In addition, our farm management platform can be used to track farming operations, crops as they grow and are harvested, and yields, to both pass food safety certification, but also to enhance future crop sizes.
Cityblooms micro-farms use 90% less water than traditional farming, have virtually no food waste since food is grown on site and consumed shortly after harvesting, and do not require the burning of fossil fuels that happen when food travels hundreds of mikes to its ultimate destination. Furthermore, the food consumed at our in-site farms are much more nutritious, and bring people closer to their food, and a better understanding of issues around fresh food and sustainability.The Cityblooms technology platform gives insights into the growing environment in a way never before imagined, enabling the proliferation of sustainable farming methods that are so necessary for our society. Yields can be optimized, and healthy, safe nutrients can be used in the growing of food. Our planet will need to grow as much food in the next 40 years as it has in the last 10,000 years, making sustainable farming and food production an imperative for our society, and the future of our precious world.
Nick Halmos, Founder and CEO of Cityblooms, was named Innovator of the Year at the 8th Annual NEXTties Award ceremony by a local Santa Cruz group who honors those who inspire the community to reach further and higher.
Our CEO, Nick Halmos, was recently recognized for his work to fight food insecurity. Halmos, 37, lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., and is CEO and founder of Cityblooms, a company that uses technology to provide intelligent automated agriculture in urban environments.