This week we got a chance to talk with Tom and Meg from Planted Detroit and hear a little about how they are using hydroponics and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) to help bring fresh produce to the metropolitan Detroit area.
The leadership team at Planted consists of five individuals who all bring something different to the team. From expertise in biosecurity, to hydroponic technology, to plant health, the leadership team at Planted, along with the other team members, all bring various talents and knowledge that is collectively used to push towards the goal of finding a way to fix a broken food system.
Tom, Planted’s CEO, grew up in south Detroit and is deeply connected to the city. From a young age, Tom knew of and experienced the roughness of certain parts of the city and wanted to be a part of the “constant struggle” Detroit experienced. Tom saw an opportunity to be a part of the revitalization of Detroit by using hydroponics and CEA to mend the broken food system including the food waste, wasted time and money, and the inefficiencies that exist within it. After much research, Tom decided that hydroponic growing would be a fairly simple solution to a large, complicated problem. He saw how food systems and economic problems are related and wanted to perform his due diligence into hydroponic technology and how it could be used to create a more localized food system.
Through Planted’s R&D testing of different technologies, they found that produce grew best in AmHydro’s NFT channels. Planted’s produce includes lettuce, baby greens, and a variety of microgreens which they sell on their website and deliver straight to the customer as part of their “farm to fork” business model. Tom was very adamant on being a company that delivers its produce directly to the consumer as he learned more about the “abuse of produce in retail.” Planted has been very hesitant to start selling their produce in grocery stores for this reason and they mainly focus on selling direct to the customer through their online store as well as selling at a local farmer’s market.
Meg, Planted’s leader of business development, mentioned that the COVID-19 pandemic has actually allowed Planted to take their business in a new direction and they have added ready to eat salads, featuring mixes of their lettuces and baby greens, to their online store. She noted that this pandemic has made people much more aware of where their food is coming from and they have noticed an uptick in people wanting fresh produce in their community.
Planted has big plans for the future beyond just selling the produce they grow. Two of the big things they are focusing on is educating kids in schools about hydroponic growing and CEA as well as developing career pathing and hiring people from the Detroit area who have never worked in CEA and teaching and training them how to become growers. Both Tom and Meg, along with the entire Planted team, are passionate about Detroit and working to be a part of building thriving communities through hiring local and continuing to educate others about the benefits hydroponic growing can bring to urban food systems.
To learn more about Planted and the work they do, you can find them on Instagram at planted.detroit or visit their website to order a fresh salad for delivery if you’re in the Detroit area!