Robots Are Already Farming Crops Inside This Silicon Valley Warehouse
Inside a cavernous warehouse in South San Francisco, 16-foot-tall walls of kale and other greens stretch down aisles twice the length of a bowling lane. Matt Barnard, CEO and cofounder of Plenty, the startup that designed and built the indoor farm, points to two types of mustard greens called mizuna and tatsoi. “This is one of the blends that we are working to position against junk food,” he says.
Barnard wants to change how the world eats by changing how food is grown. The new farm, which will begin selling produce to San Franciscans later this year, is the latest iteration of its indoor growing system, designed to grow food as efficiently as possible in any space, so cities anywhere can have access to locally grown vegetables—optimized for flavor—at any time of year. When I first visited the company’s headquarters in 2017, it used only a small amount of the space, a former electronics distribution center in an industrial neighborhood. A few months later, Softbank led a $200 million investment round in the startup. The new version of Plenty’s farm now sprawls over a much larger part of its headquarters, and the company plans to eventually replicate it near large cities globally.
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