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.
March 18, 2015 – Acterra has announced that Cityblooms and Plantronics have been selected to receive a 2015 Business Environmental Award in the category of Small/Medium Environmental Project for its Hydroponic Micro-Farm.
Acterra’s Business Environmental Awards is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s oldest and most prestigious environmental recognition programs. Initiated in 1990, it is considered a heavyweight among award programs due to its rigorous application and judging process.
States Committee Chair Bruce Klafter, “As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of this program, Acterra is pleased to recognize another accomplished group of awardees who exemplify the possibilities of sustainable enterprise. Each year, there is an unspoken expectation that our newest awardees will raise the bar from prior years, and this year’s winners have met this challenge without question. We proudly congratulate them for their achievements in sustainable business practices and sincerely hope that others will follow their lead.”
Cityblooms and Plantronics will be honored at the 25th Anniversary Business Environmental Awards Reception on May 28th at Intuit Corporation in Mountain View. This special anniversary event will also celebrate the program’s 25-year history, past awardees, and legacy of corporate environmental leadership in the Bay Area. For more information, visit www.acterra.org/bea or get updates on Twitter at #ActerraBEA.
Read more details in the Press Release here.
In January, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency. Described as one of the three worst droughts in over a century, more than 80% of California is now in a state of extreme or exceptional drought. The drought will cost the state an estimated $2.2 billion and more than 17,000 jobs. Impacts across the entire state include idled farmland and associated farm worker job losses, farm income losses, and food price increases. The state’s dwindling reservoir supply has resulted in mandatory water cutbacks and unprecedented fines for some, but no region of California has conserved as much water as Governor Brown has requested (20% cutback) and water use actually increased 1 percent in urban areas last May.
“If we can improve agricultural practices across the board we can dramatically increase our food production from existing lands, without having to clear more or put more pressure on soils.” – Ian Sample, The Guardian
By 2050 the world’s population will surpass 9 billion with the vast majority of people living in urban areas. In order to support this growth, global agricultural production must increase by 70 percent. Consequently, over the next 40 years farmers must produce as much food as they have in the past 10,000 years combined. Innovations in urban and smaller-scale farming, combined with technological advances in big data analysis and Internet-of-Things connectivity, are offering viable solutions that complement more traditional large-scale agriculture.
“Data is everywhere, and over the next few years, innovative new uses of information in all aspects of farming — from yield optimization, to food safety and quality, to distribution, to water management, fertilizer management, connected vehicles and even whole new methods of growing food — will be adopted.” – Deborah Magid, IBM Venture Capital Group, Forbes