UrbanHarvest is a start-up in Seattle that provides high-end vegetables to local farmer’s markets, restaurants, and specialty grocery stores. They grow their vegetables using hydroponics in high-tech greenhouses and indoor warehouse farms. Because of this growing process, UrbanHarvest’s vegetables never have any chemicals applied to them and are able to be grown within just miles of their final destination. The growing process and customer proximity lead to vegetables that are fresher, better tasting, and more nutritious, and production that is more sustainable than conventional farming.
The ever-growing base of consumers who are concerned about how their food is grown and where it comes from serves as a ready market for UrbanHarvest, and this is just the market it is targeting. “Local is the new organic” is a sentiment that is gaining traction, and UrbanHarvest is taking the local food movement to a hyper local level. Customers who are educated about growing practices and their impact on the environment and food quality know that there is much more to the nutrition and sustainability equation than simply organic practices. UrbanHarvest wants to engage these customers in a conversation about their food – how it is grown, who grows it, where it comes from, and how it gets to them. It will do this through a presence at farmer’s markets in the Seattle area, where it will hand out brochures explaining how it grows its vegetables, and will allow customers to experience the difference themselves. It will deliver vegetables to these markets that were harvested that morning or the day before in a pick-up truck. Also, because of the proximity of its greenhouses, it will be able to call in for reserves, harvested just hours before, when its customers clamor for more vegetables than it has on hand.
In addition to farmer’s markets, UrbanHarvest will provide local specialty grocery stores and restaurants with their high-quality produce. Customers will be able to identify UrbanHarvest’s vegetables by its distinctive “Grown in Seattle, WA” sticker. Let’s be honest, when you live in a decent sized metropolitan city, what is cooler than knowing you are buying vegetables grown just down the street by people just like you? UrbanHarvest will invite its retail customers to visit its growing sites so they can understand how the process works and meet the people managing it.
UrbanHarvest understands that there is a certain romantic element lost with high-tech production of vegetables. There is something really special in knowing that vegetables came from the soil, cultivated by people whose families have been doing it for generations. UrbanHarvest thinks that knowing your vegetables come from just down the road can more than compensate for this loss. Because of this, customers could conceivably develop a level of trust they simply couldn’t with people growing their food cities, states, even countries and continents away. Beyond that, though, UrbanHarvest also believes its customers will be able to taste and feel the difference with their produce, and once they do, they wouldn’t dream of going back.
If I’ve gotten you all excited and you’ve already become disappointed by an internet search that turns up no local carriers of UrbanHarvest vegetables, that’s because they haven’t yet started production, at least officially. One of UrbanHarvest’s founders has been growing vegetables using hydroponics in his living room for years, but they have not yet established their first commercial production facility. But soon, very soon, they will, so keep your eyes open for that “Grown in Seattle, WA” sticker at your favorite Seattle farmer’s market or grocery store.