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Walmart Invests in Indoor Vertical Farming Startup Plenty


This undated photo shows the Plenty Farms South San Francisco grow room. Vertical farmers say vertical farming grows more food while using less water and land. (Spencer Lowell/Plenty/Courtesy of Walmart via AP)
Walmart Invests in Indoor Vertical Farming Startup Plenty
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Walmart, America’s largest goods store, recently announced that it bought a share of the agriculture company, Plenty.

Plenty specializes in vertical farming. In a statement, Walmart official Charles Redfield said the partnership will help the company offer the “highest-quality foods at the best prices.” Plenty is based in San Francisco, California. Walmart is an international company based in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Vertical farmers praise their methods. They say vertical farming grows more food while using less water and land. The method also does not use chemical insect control. It also permits produce to be grown all year near transportation centers, which increases the dependability of supply.

Walmart did not comment on the size of its investment or the financial terms of the deal. The company said a Walmart representative will join Plenty’s board of directors when the deal is completed.

This undated photo shows a Plenty Farms tower robot. Plenty Farms' systems include vertical plant towers, special lighting, and robots to plant, feed, and harvest the crops. (Spencer Lowell/Plenty/Courtesy of Walmart via AP)
This undated photo shows a Plenty Farms tower robot. Plenty Farms' systems include vertical plant towers, special lighting, and robots to plant, feed, and harvest the crops. (Spencer Lowell/Plenty/Courtesy of Walmart via AP)

Plenty is one of several companies in the fast-growing field of indoor farming. Other vertical farming companies include AppHarvest in Morehead, Kentucky and Gotham Greens based in New York City.

The company Agritecture is a business advisor. It recently said at least 74 indoor farming companies were established around the world in 2020.

Plenty was founded in 2014. It has a vertical farm in South San Francisco. It also operates an indoor science research center in Laramie, Wyoming.

Plenty is now building a center in Compton, California. It said the project will be the world’s most productive vertical indoor farm. It is expected to open in the second half of this year.

Plenty said its vertical farming towers are designed to grow several crops on one floor in a building the size of a large store. Its systems include vertical plant towers, special lighting, and robots to plant, feed, and harvest the crops.

Plenty says its farms use one percent of the land that an outdoor farm requires. At the same time, the farm can produce anywhere from 150 to 350 times more food per hectare.

Walmart said that under the deal, Plenty’s Compton farm will send leafy vegetables, like lettuce, to Walmart’s California stores beginning later this year. Walmart said the vertical farms will add to, not replace, traditional farming methods. It added that the vertical farms will increase the food supply in a way that is good for the environment and that does not waste resources.

I’m Gregory Stachel.

Anne D’Innocenzio reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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Words in This Story

vertical – adj. positioned up and down rather than from side to side: going straight up

board – n. a group of people who manage or direct a company or organization

grocery store – phr. n. a store that sells food and household supplies

tower – n. a tall, narrow building or structure that may stand apart from or be attached to another building or structure

leaf – n. one of the flat and typically green parts of a plant that grow from a stem or twig

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