NYU Brother Paving the Way in Agriculture Industry
Video courtesy of NBC News
When we take that first crunchy bite of our salad, what do we think? Maybe ‘This could use a touch more dressing’ or ‘What is a salad without some cheese’. The thought that probably doesn’t cross our minds is what kind of nutrients am I really gaining from these greens?
That question is exactly what cofounder/Theta-Upsilon member Matthew LaRosa, cofounder Ben Silverman, and CEO/cofounder Jason Green are trying to answer with their company, Edenworks.
LaRosa, a senior at New York University, started his adventure with the vertical farm system after hearing Green speak about the idea at a school competition. From there, he was hooked.
A construction management major, LaRosa works on the engineering side and currently operates the “Farmlab”, a 1000-foot greenhouse where the magic happens.
So here is the million-dollar question that might be on your mind: what makes Edenworks different than any other farm you can imagine?
Two words: aquaponic system.
In this system, fish generate manure, which is naturally broken down by a microbiome of soil bacteria into the nutrients that the vegetables need. The vegetables then filter the water as they grow.
The plants clean the water, the fish feed the plants and LaRosa and other employees feed the fish: a closed loop system.
That nutrient-rich solution is the reason why, though, Edenworks has become the talk around Brooklyn.
“The advantage of aquaponics over other systems, such as hydroponics or aeroponics, is it gives a more ecological fertilizer for the plants by utilizing the fish,” said LaRosa. “So, if you use hydroponics, you are providing all of the macronutrients that the plants are going to need, but you are not providing all of the micronutrients, which is extremely important.”
“That influences flavor, taste and just the overall nutrient content of the end product.”
People, such as Questlove of The Roots band, have started to catch on to this fresh craze. However, LaRosa, Silverman, and Green assure there is still much work to do.
“What we are trying to do is to make microgreens an accessible retail product,” Green told NBC.
Edenworks recognizes that fresh produce may not always be an option, especially in big cities. With the creation of Edenworks, an urban farm, stale veggies can be a thing of the past.
“The general motivation behind this and kind of the social aspect is it’s an environmentally-motivated company,” stated LaRosa. “A lot of people lack access to fresh produce and fresh food in general. Using our technology, cities become where the food is being grown and consumed.”
As Edenworks continues to perfect its system, LaRosa hopes to see the company grow its reach beyond New York. Following his graduation in May, LaRosa will start full-time.
LaRosa is excited to see where Edenworks will take him and is ready to get down to business.
“It’s nice recognition, but really for this company, especially, and the field that we are in, there is so much work to be done.”