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.
Cityblooms is pleased to be working with Soliculture to incorporate its wavelength selective photovoltaics (WSPV) technology into our cultivation units to fine-tune light for crops while simultaneously generating electricity! We plan to offer Soliculture solar panels as an option on all of our equipment.
“The new “lumo” panels stem from the research of UC Santa Cruz Physics Professors Sue Carter and Glenn Alers. They designed the red dye that gives the solar panel its unique ability to tweak the light escaping the panel. Once light strikes the panel, this luminescent dye absorbs green light, which plants don’t use well during photosynthesis, and lets red and blue light filter down onto the waiting lettuce, kale, and arugula. It then converts the green light into more red light for the plants to use. Meanwhile, the solar cells absorb all colors of light that strike them and convert them into electricity.” (Read More at Santa Cruz Tech Beat)
After 3 months of crop trials, the Cityblooms pilot project is now officially in production mode and making bi-weekly deliveries to the Plantronics Café. Bon Appétit chef Cheyenne has been totally jazzed by the culinary options their new farm has opened up. We have been producing a variety of amazing lettuces, basil, cilantro, parsley, and bok choy. Micro-green production is also scheduled to resume shortly. From planting to consumption, the crop never travels more than 300 yards for the ultimate in eating local.
CEO Nick Halmos with a Cityblooms Bike Trailer ready for a short delivery.
Our largest gains in the past few months have been in the realm of food safety. The installation is now independently food safety certified under Global GAP and USDA standards and may be the first urban micro-farm to complete the rigorous certification process. Furthermore, we have built the record keeping and scheduling tasks into our cloud-based UI for a truly paper-free food safety program. Now we have hydroponic automation control, crop production management, and food safety records all rolled into a single mobile platform. This effort has definitely paved the way to making food safety certification for future micro-farms a much less daunting task.
Parsley taking over
We are also busy working on our latest prototype modular tomato unit. Tomatoes are a tricky crop to grow in the urban setting due to the size of tomato plant sought in most commercial operations. However, there is a line of scientific research originating at Rutgers University suggesting that it is possible to increase overall yield by severely limiting the number of fruit clusters per vine while increasing planting density and frequency of crop turnover. This program results in a much shorter crop canopy, which in turn creates greater flexibility in urban applications. We designed a cultivation unit specifically to run a Rutgers limited cluster tomato program and the requisite tomato propagation schedule falls right in line with our lettuce program. So far the results are very encouraging!