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Fast Company has an interesting piece about a new company called PodPonics, which thinks it has harvested a new idea that will make more local produce available to neighborhoods around America.

According to the story, “PodPonics started in 2010 when founder Matt Liotta - a serial entrepreneur who has launched Internet, software, and telecom startups - noticed that demand significantly outstripped supply in the local food business ... Liotta decided to use recycled shipping containers as "grow pods," which are outfitted with organic hydroponic nutrient solutions; computer-controlled environmental systems to regulate temperature, humidity, pH levels, and CO2; and lights that emit specific spectrums at different points in the day. The system provides the exact amount of water, lights, and nutrients that a crop requires - so there is no wasted energy (though the pods are still hooked up to the power grid). In a 320 square foot area, PodPonics can produce an acre's worth of produce. The pods can be stacked on top of each other for more efficient use of space.

“The startup already supplies 150 pounds of lettuce, arugula, and other microgreens to restaurants (and a smattering of independent groceries) throughout the Atlanta area every week.”

The next step is ramping up production so that the company can provide locally grown produce to major chain grocery stores all over the country, as well as remaining efficient in its use of capital. The need, Liotta is convinced, is real.

"If you're looking to the future, most everybody agrees that fuel prices are going to go up and the population is going to rise. By the time we get to 2050, 60% of the world population will live in urban areas, and we will have 15% less arable land than we have today," says Liotta. "There's got to be a way to divorce arable land from food production if we're going to make it as a species."
KC's View:
One of the things I like most about this story and the concept is how PodPonics was developed by someone completely outside the food business ... and why.

Liotta says that all of the industries in which he has worked shared a common characteristic. “The goal was to find a mature industry and come up with a disruptive technology," he says. "If you wanted to produce fresh produce at the point of consumption in a way that was economically viable, what would you have to invent to do it?"