S2E21: s2e21 Ed Harwood - Aeroponics, SOPs & Serendipity


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Episode Summary

Join Harry Duran, host of Vertical Farming Podcast, as he welcomes to the show Chief Science Officer (CSO) of AeroFarms, Ed Harwood. It is the mission of AeroFarms to grow the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity. With over forty years of agricultural and engineering experience, Ed founded GreatVeggies before transitioning to AeroFarms. In this episode, Harry and Ed share a discussion on the difference between hydroponics and aeroponics, the merits and disadvantages of both and Ed’s never-ending quest to change the world for the better through education, technology and science.

Episode Sponsor

Ceres Greenhouse Solutions

Key Takeaways

  • 03:22 – Harry welcomes to the show Ed Harwood, who shares new hobbies he’s picked up during the pandemic, the benefits of living in Ithaca, NY and his affinity for poker and reading
  • 11:44 – What sparked Ed’s interest in biology, agriculture and AgTech
  • 17:08 – Ed shares lessons he learned from founding his own company, GreatVeggies, and the path that led him to AeroFarms
  • 30:40 – The importance of having Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place and obstacles Ed encountered as he transitioned into the role of CSO of AeroFarms
  • 34:15 – Ed expounds on the difference between aeroponics and hydroponics and the pros and cons to both
  • 36:31 – Advances in aeroponics technology that Ed has witnessed throughout the years
  • 38:49 – Ed speaks to the importance AeroFarms places on taste
  • 43:08 – The work Ed is doing with schools in New York and New Jersey to combat food deserts and improve access to food
  • 49:51 – Ed speaks to AeroFarms’ involvement with the Lettuce Project initiative
  • 51:39 – What excites Ed most about the future of aeroponics, a tough question Ed has had to ask himself recently, and what he thinks of being compared to the Wright Brothers
  • 56:22 – Harry thanks Ed for joining the show and let’s listeners know where they can learn more about AeroFarms

Tweetable Quotes

“Serendipity – if you’re ready for it – will really help you out. If you’re persistently curious, curiosity c an really take you a long way. So, if you want to start a new business, stay curious and be ready for serendipity.” (19:14)

“The whole idea here is to do something consistently so that the customer gets the same product over, and over, and over again no matter what time of the year.” (31:06)

“Hydroponics is work with water. So, as opposed to growing in soil, you now move to soilless culture. And I think of it as being broken up into three different parts. In all cases, if you don’t have sufficient oxygen with the water, the plants will die.” (34:32)

“If you understand what the spectral needs of the plant are to give you the chemistry that you want, then you can manipulate the plants to become little factories of stuff that is valuable.” (37:50)

“Taste is everything. It’s the reason the customer comes back. If you can impress a person’s pallet, they’ll keep coming to find you.” (39:07)

“You can’t count on what you learned in high school to get you through the next sixty years of employment. It’s just not gonna happen.” (53:09)

Links Mentioned

AeroFarms Website

Ed’s LinkedIn

Learn More About The Lettuce Project


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