2019 Innovation in Greenhouse & Vertical Farming

Afternoon Session Speakers

Innovation in Specialized Vertical Farming

Ryan Pierce, Fresh Impact Farms, Arlington VA

Ryan Pierce is the founder and owner of Fresh Impact Farms, a vertical hydroponic farm in Arlington, VA, that grows unique culinary herbs, edible flowers, and microgreens for chefs in the DC metro area. Fresh Impact is the only commercial farm in Arlington County and one of only a few indoor farms in the United States servicing chefs' needs for flavorful, unique and rare herbs. Prior to starting Fresh Impact, Ryan led a successful career in the cloud computing industry, most recently as the Director for Datapipe Government Solutions. He started Fresh Impact Farms as a direct response to traditional and unsustainable agriculture that grows crops for yield rather than flavor using methods that are harmful to the environment. While atypical, his transition from technology to indoor farming has provided him with an acute understanding of the delicate marriage of technology and agriculture and how it can positively impact food quality, consistency, transparency and security. Ryan has a BA in business administration from the University of Delaware. 

Innovations in Sensor and Lighting Technology

Travis Higginbotham, Fluence Bioengineering, Austin TX

Travis Higginbotham is Global Director of Cultivation Support at Fluence Bioengineering. He oversees global cultivation and production-efficiency support, ensuring clients successfully manage critical environmental factors. Prior to Fluence, Higginbotham was Director of Research and Development for Battlefield Farms. Higginbotham has a B.S. from Clemson University and is finishing his master’s degree in Horticulture at Virginia Tech.

Evaluating LED Technologies for Commercial Operations

Chris Higgins, Hort Americas, Fort Worth TX

As General Manager at Hort Americas, LLC, Chris is a leader in providing technical assistance to businesses, including commercial greenhouse operations, state–of–the–art hydroponic vegetable facilities, vertical farms, and tissue culture laboratories. Chris’ role includes everything from sales and marketing to technical support and general management/owner responsibilities. His talk will focus on using LED technologies in commercial vertical farming operations.

Energy Use, Economics & Niches for Vertical Farms

Neil Mattson, Ph.D., Cornell University, Ithaca NY

Neil S. Mattson director of the Cornell Controlled Environment Agriculture group. Neil is the project director of a recently awarded $2.4 million NSF grant to evaluate how CEA compares to field production in terms of energy use, carbon and water footprints, and profitability. Neil is a prolific writer and frequent speaker on greenhouse and vertical farm food production. Today, he will speak about the preliminary economics findings of his NSF grant with examples of niche markets profitably filled by vertical farms, along with his work with energy modeling in vertical farms and greenhouses.

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