Episode 91: Dr. Jenna Bell, Vice President of Nutritional Science for Crop One
Mar 25, 2020, Updated May 22, 2021
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Crop One is changing the way the world grows produce.
Dr. Jenna Bell is the Vice President of Nutritional Science for Crop One, one of the largest vertical farms in the world. She leads nutrition and brand communications and supports the plant science R&D program, product innovation, marketing, and international business development.
“One-third of our land that has traditionally been farmed on is becoming unusable.” – Dr. Jenna Bell (2:42-2:50)
The Benefits of Vertical Farming
Approximately ⅓ of the land traditionally farmed on our earth is becoming unusable. With limited resources, and growing global need for a resilient food supply, Crop One has stepped up to provide an innovative solution.
Crop One uses 95-99% less water than traditional farming! This means, for every gallon of water used in traditional farming, Crop One uses 1 ½ drops. The purified water they do use is preserved by the further purification by the plants.
Because the environment is controlled, energy can be conserved. LED lights can be turned on and off, and biofeedback is available to eliminate overfeeding plants. Crop One puts great priority on reducing their carbon footprint. They are not yet carbon neutral, but making great strides towards neutrality. Plants need CO2 for growth, but the hope is that eventually they will be able to give them just enough to help them become carbon synced on their own.
While there are other vertical farms in the market, Crop One is one of the largest and most successful. Their yield is more than double the yield of other vertical farms, and they operate at a 40% profit margin. They are truly on the cutting edge of ag technology.
“We want to make sure we’re growing more with less… providing fresh, local, high-quality safe produce in areas that could not grow previously. We grow an enormous amount of food in a tiny amount of land with a tiny amount of water to complement traditional farming.” – Dr. Jenna Bell (26:50)
“Simply Put, Vertical Farming is the Conversion of Electrons to Calories.”
Crop One builds high-density, high-yield farms in completely controlled and contained vertical hydroponic farms. One acre of Crop One fields is equal to 400 acres of outdoor farmland!
The crops are grown in boxes, utilizing a modular system. Each field room is individualized to give complete control over the individualized environment for the specific crop being grown. Imagine them as building blocks or Legos. It looks quite fantastical. However, everything they do is based upon the way that the plants grow the best, and healthiest.
Interesting facts about your plants and their nutrient content.
Did you know that the phytonutrients and antioxidants your plants provide you are created by the plants in response to their environment? When a plant encounters the elements, water, sun, heat, etc. it builds a defense system.
Crop One is able to maximize nutrition content by eliminating the unpredictable nature of these elements. They have complete control of the environment – light and dark, amounts of CO2, temperature, humidity, nutrient provision, even nitrogen content. They take samples from each crop to make sure all factors are ideal for the healthiest, most nutritious plant.
They’ve had great success increasing the phytonutrients of plants, and are currently working on making the tweaks necessary to boost antioxidant production. Kale and Romaine produced by Crop One contain higher amounts of potassium, and Romaine contains more calcium.
Crop One currently has produce in 43 stores in the greater Boston area, and recently announced a joint venture with Emirates Flight Catering.
Technology is evolving, and with it, the sources of our produce. With companies like Crop One, fresh produce is becoming more dependable, accessible, and more nutritious. Crop One is truly solving the world’s food problems one crop at a time!
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
- Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.
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- Episode 89: The Future of AG Technology with Vonnie Estes, Vice President of Marketing at the Produce Marketing Association
- Episode 88: How to Eliminate Plastic Waste in Your Kitchen with Andrea Watson, Founder and Chief Brand Ambassador of Nature Knows
- Episode 87: The Essential Nutrients Your Children are Missing with Jonathon Wolfson, Founder and CEO of Brainiac Kids
- Episode 86: The Future of Nutrition is Personalized with Allison Baker, VP of Business Development at Baze