Imagine walking into the produce section of your local grocery store and picking fresh greens and herbs off growing plants. This amenity is a reality for a few intrepid grocers who have chosen to partner with vertical farms to improve their customer engagement and get shoppers back in-store.
The Coronavirus pandemic has revolutionized how we shop and do business. Online grocery sales have grown tremendously this year. The safety and convenience of having food delivered to your door are undeniable. To get shoppers back in stores, grocers must offer their customers an experience that goes beyond what they can find online. Delight your customers with a unique, luxury amenity that will draw them in and get them excited to shop in person again.
The downside of delivery is that fresh items don’t always arrive, well, fresh. Aeroponic farming presents grocers with an opportunity to bring health-conscious shoppers the freshest, most nutritionally-dense greens possible—straight from the (vertical) farm. Harvest events where customers can take home just-picked veggies will make the in-store experience personalized and exclusive.
On-site farming is not a new idea for grocery stores, but as aeroponic technology has improved, it has become more and more feasible. Major players like Kroger and Publix have tested vertical systems in niche markets and are implementing plans to expand in-store farming into larger regions.
Two Seattle Krogers partnered with German startup Infarm to install modular vertical farms in their produce section late last year. The project was deemed an instant success, with Infarm’s produce regularly selling out. In March of this year, a Publix in Lakeland, Florida, added a 40-foot hydroponic farm to the parking lot as a way to provide customers the freshest lettuce possible on a large scale.
The demand for fresh, local, nutritious produce is not going anywhere. Suzy Monford, Kroger Group’s VP of fresh foods, says,
“Customers today want transparency; they want to know exactly where their product is from, the provenance where it was grown.”
When customers can watch their greens grow to maturity and anticipate the harvest, they become invested in the farming process and in the community around it. This bump in engagement and community enthusiasm is something we at Copiana have seen time and again when we partner with a new office space or residential complex. Our aeroponic tower farms bring connection, community, and yes, fresh, sustainable produce to urban environments throughout Atlanta.
What is Vertical Farming?
Vertical farms grow fresh produce year-round, indoors, or outdoors. Instead of growing on a single level, which requires lots of space and lots of soil, plants are stacked to make the most efficient use of space. Our towers can grow a football field’s worth of produce in the space of one in zone!
The major impact of vertical agriculture is that it meets increasing food demands sustainably while decreasing environmental footprint. Our aeroponic system requires no soil and 95% less water than a traditional farm, drastically lessening farming’s environmental impact. At the same time, we grow more produce more quickly. Vertical farming solves many of the problems of the traditional farm: bad weather, disease, and pests are nonissues for aeroponic agriculture. And since our crops can grow where our customers live, work, and shop, we eliminate the cost and pollution of shipping our produce.
Our aeroponic greens and herbs even taste better than conventional produce. The taste of a plant is affected by everything it experiences during the growth process, so by optimizing its nutrient intake and eliminating sources of stress; we grow a more flavorful, healthier, organic product.
How it Works: Monthly Harvests
The best part of partnering with Copiana is that our highly-skilled, knowledgeable team does all the work for you. Our aeroponically-farmed produce matures in just one month, and when harvest day arrives, we like to have a bit of a party. We make monthly harvests into value-adding, community-centered events. Engagement is a big part of Copiana’s draw: “With Copiana as our service partner, we have been able to enhance the sense of community among our valued tenants,” said Grace Meyers, VP of Property Management for Madison Marquette.
Atlanta is ripe for an in-grocery vertical farm experience. Atlanta customers value fresh, locally grown produce but don’t always have time to visit the nearest farmers market every weekend. Copiana towers bring the farm experience straight to them. Customers can add just-harvested greens to their shopping carts, roots still attached, and chat with our farmers about recipe ideas or growing tips. We’re much more than another store vendor. We are reimaging the sustainable shopping experience.