Elevating the Impact and Value of Modular Farming

Fresh basil growing in vertical racks within an AmplifiedAg modular farming container

Sponsored by Amplified Ag

December 15, 2023

AmplifiedAg has been at the forefront of CEA innovation since its beginnings in 2015. Their modular farm technology and crop monitoring software have revolutionized agricultural production possibilities, especially for independent farmers in areas where environmental factors create significant challenges for growth, like limited growing seasons or high salinity. In two recent partnerships, AmplifiedAg has implemented its vertical farming technology beyond independent farms to facilitate modular farm infrastructure for other enterprise-scale operators, proving to be impactful on numerous levels.

Partnership with South Carolina Department of Corrections and Department of Agriculture 

Back in October, the South Carolina Department of Corrections and Department of Agriculture joined hands with AmplifiedAg, introducing plans and funding for the very first vertical farm to be implemented on the site of a correctional institution in the United States. According to the company, this planned 8-module farm will operate at a commercially relevant scale and present an opportunity for professional growth to the inmates of South Carolina’s Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution.

Satellite area view of the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution that shows location for new modular farmAmplifiedAg’s modular infrastructure and technology curates the perfect format to provide inmates with unique, technical skills and job qualifications. According to South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, “This partnership between AmplifiedAg and two state agencies will offer meaningful job training and a healthy work environment to incarcerated people, helping them learn the importance of farming.” 

In a facility such as Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institution, the need for a large quantity of quality produce is vast, and this groundbreaking project represents the versatile ability of AmplifiedAg to meet this intense demand and utilize their technology to grow “48,000 lbs. of lettuce per year for the facility’s food program.” This may just be a perfect niche for vertical farming technology, with limited space to work with, yet hefty demand for a large volume of crops. As outlined by the company, each module will have the ability to manage all the intricacies of such a precise operation via software provided by AmplifiedAg, “controlling temperature, water, air, light, pH, and humidity,” as well as providing “enhanced security for the safety of incarcerated persons and employees.”

Mockup of the new AmplifiedAg modular farm to be built at Camille Griffin Graham Correctional InstitutionWith each of the 4 propagation modules set to produce 3,400 plants per harvest and harvest 16 times per year, AmplifiedAg Founder and CEO Don Taylor firmly believes that “this project has the potential to positively impact the daily lives of incarcerated individuals,” given that the estimated production capabilities of the facility of “4,000 salads per week will contribute to the facility’s healthy food security program.” In addition to the obvious benefits for the inmates, for AmplifiedAg and its technology, this demonstrates its scalable capabilities and perceived value outside the scope of smaller, independent operators. 

With its cutting-edge, 24/7 farm management software, AmplifiedAg in turn offers some of the most advanced agricultural job training available for inmates, preparing them for success in a competitive workforce upon release, which coined AmplifiedAg’s name for the project, “Cultivating Futures.” It outlines hands-on training and expertise provided to incarcerated individuals “through the full spectrum of vertical farming operations,” which include weekly tasks like seeding, transplanting, harvesting, processing, and sanitation. Because they recognize “the fast-growing and societally important fields of vertical farming and agricultural technology,” AmplifiedAg has partnered with leading justice reform organization Impact Justice to support comprehensive training and reentry programs. The goal is to“secure meaningful employment upon release to ultimately reduce recidivism.” While extensively beneficial to the two South Carolina governmental institutions working together on this project and the inmates themselves, AmplifiedAg is also actively bringing the impacts of vertical farming far beyond small, independent modular farms, and expanding them to a comprehensive, societally beneficial scale. 

Partnership with Wholesale Distributor Senn Brothers Produce

AmplifiedAg has furthered its ability to meet enterprise-scale produce demands by joining together with wholesale food distributor Senn Brothers Produce. Senn Brothers Produce aims to build its own vertical farm to better serve the needs of its consumers and push the concept of indoor-grown produce forward on a larger platform with the help of AmplifiedAg technology. AmplifiedAg’s modular farming design is uniquely scalable, giving it the ability to meet the high demand needs of the wholesale supplier, who, according to AmplifiedAg, “produces 112,000 lbs. of leafy greens annually,” and plans to continue to do so under this new partnership and design initiative.

A person in a Sennsational Fresh tshirt holding a cardboard box of fresh lettuce greensAccording to project executive Zach Senn, bringing their production process indoors gives Senn Brothers Produce the ability to “control our supply and meet our food quality, food safety, and distribution standards.” With the vertical farming tools offered by AmplifiedAg, Senn Brothers has more control over their capacity while simultaneously limiting losses caused by pests and disease threats. The crop management system utilizes information from “a national network of commercial farmers, nonprofits, and agricultural researchers, including multiple USDA-ARS agencies” incorporated into its software to tightly control every step of the production process. Better monitoring technology indicates more quality control for Senn Brothers Produce, and a more satisfactory product for the consumer– increasing overall value across the board.

AmplifiedAg CEO Don Taylor firmly believes that working with Senn Brothers Produce “is an exemplary achievement of how vertical farming can positively impact the supply chain by putting food production directly into the hands of distributors.”

A vertical growing system with fresh leafy greens in an AmplifiedAg modular systemReducing the overall time and distance between production and distribution ensures a higher value for the consumer, both by lowering the risk for food safety harm, and allowing Senn Brothers to easily and swiftly generate fresh changes in their product line. “Operating our own farm gives us the flexibility to customize products and packs for clients, and deliver it quickly instead of seeking new procurement,” explains Zach Senn. This newfound flexibility enables a more sound supply chain process, from minimizing loss during modular propagation to lowering food waste resulting from expiration and mishandling. 

What AmplifiedAg began in 2015 as an effort to streamline CEA has now become something much bigger. Apart from being a viable process by which to control the cultivation of produce, the technology and structure offered by the company are proving to have much broader and scalable impacts. Through its newfound partnership with the South Carolina Department of Corrections, AmplifiedAg is proving that vertical farms have the potential to provide widespread, interdisciplinary benefits to crop yields, those cultivating them, and the communities where they’re found. By bringing its technology to wholesale supplier Senn Brothers Produce, the modular farm design offered by AmplifiedAg displays the elite level of control that vertical farming provides over produce quality and distribution. Once appearing to be a tool of the independent operator, AmplifiedAg has shown the vast potential for the value of vertical farming to expand in scale and extend across institutional lines.


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