Will indoor farming be part of the future? What can we do to help our local communities? Our mission at Forward Greens is to be a sustainable food source that's environmentally friendly while providing the community with the freshest greens possible. Founder Ken Kaneko shared our story with KATU.
FORWARD GREENS x KATU
by Wesleigh Ogle, KATU
The year 2020 has forced a number of disruptions to our daily lives, so what if we have more years like it in the future? How will we make sure our communities can survive by getting vital resources, like food?
The answer may be growing inside an old Hewlett Packard plant at the Vancouver Tech Campus in Washington. Forward Greens is probably not what you picture when you think “farm”: vertical floor to ceiling stacks of planters filled with microgreens and baby greens, growing under LED lights.
“Rather than growing out in an outdoor field, we’re growing up,” says Forward Greens CEO and Founder, Ken Kaneko. “We’re able to control the temperature, the humidity, the airflow, as well as the lighting,” he says.
From arugula to kale to broccoli, everything growing inside this urban, indoor farm wouldn’t be growing outside on a chilly November day in the Pacific Northwest. From start to finish, the whole process of farming is essentially done in one room. In just a week or two, the greens are on their way to grocery stores in Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle.
Kaneko, who had worked for Intel and more recently, Apple, founded Forward Greens in 2017 after a trip to Japan. There, he stumbled upon his first vertical farm.
“I thought, ‘man, it would be great if I can bring this back to the Pacific Northwest and essentially do it better, cheaper and more efficiently,'” said Kaneko.
Kaneko says Forward Greens never uses any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides and it uses 95% less water and 99% less land than traditional outdoor farming. But, he says, it uses a lot of energy to power the lights. “Any engineering problem has a balance of cost, time, environmental impact, but the whole mission of this business is to balance those in a positive way towards the environment,” Kaneko said.
So could this be the farming of the future?