Detroit is known as the Motor City, we build cars, but there is a new business that sprouted up in Detroit and it is all about the greens.
As you wander the aisles of your local grocery store you may have come across one of the vibrant salads made by Planted Detroit. With fun names honoring Detroit neighborhoods, you may have guessed that the salads were made in Detroit, but did you know they were also grown here?
Yes, there is a farm in Detroit that’s growing tons of greens for local restaurants and making ready-to-eat salads, but this is not your typical farm. It’s very high-tech and all indoors, operating not too differently from a factory.
“Planted Detroit is a vertical hydroponic farm,” explains Tom Adamczyk, the Founder, and CEO of Planted Detroit. “We grow baby greens, lettuces, microgreens, and herbs.”
The best way to understand what they mean is to see it for yourself, so watch the video above for the full tour.
The first step is still the same as a regular farm, you have to plant the seeds, they just do it in a high-tech way. Trays filled with dirt that are labeled with the date and what will be planted in them are sent through a machine that punches a hole into the dirt and fills it with the proper seed. After getting a drink, the seeds are left to germinate either in total darkness or in some light, depending on what works best for that particular plant.
Once they sprout, they are then moved to a bright purple-colored room to grow. The room takes on this color because of the horticulture lights they are using. According to Simon Yevzelman, the Leader of Food Safety & Bio Security, the plants prefer the red and blue wavelengths of light to grow, so to save energy that is all they give them.
But it’s not just the sunlight they are mimicking, it’s the wind too. They’ve installed evaporative cooling pads that essentially look like long strips of corrugated cardboard. Water is pumped up to the tops of the pads to trickle down them when the temperature of the room gets too high. This will pull energy out of the air (to evaporate the water), causing the temperature to drop and creating a gentle breeze. It’s essentially temperature, humidity, and wind control all in one.
The plants are stacked high on these mobile shelves to grow. Each species has its own recipe of light and water to make it grow and taste its best. Data is collected at every step of the way.
The next step is harvesting. They have a specialized harvesting machine that works for some of the species they grow, others that do not get very tall are cut by hand. From there the greens either go into ready-to-eat salads or are sold in bulk to local restaurants.
They have just about 30 different varieties of greens ranging from romaine to spicy mustard greens like frills. This makes for some very dynamic salads when it comes to taste. They love to top their salads with fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, and dill as well.
You can find the salads at local grocery stores, like the new Rivertown Meijer, or you can purchase directly from Planted Detroit. They even do Uber Eats and Grubhub. Salads cost between $10 to $14, are all vegan, and most are gluten-free as well.