2021, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has seen several CEA businesses expand and make announcements indicating expansion and plans that will ideally continue to push each business forward for years to come. Here are a few announcements to know:

Photos courtesy of respective companies

Nature Fresh adds to strawberry average, debuts ‘imperfect’ food line

Nature Fresh Farms, a Canadian-based operation with greenhouses in the U.S, announced two new endeavors this year. One is a 16-acre increase to its strawberry production space. With an eye on increasing the brand’s footprint in the growing berry category, the grower is partnering with Cielo Vista — a greenhouse operation and a long-time partner — on the project. The expansion is set to be completed by this fall and, per the company, it took them two years of trial and error to get berries to the market.

Additionally, Nature Fresh announced its ‘Waste Me Not’ program to sell what the company calls ‘imperfect’ items. Peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers that don’t meet the standards of Nature Fresh’s quality control team — the crops would be too small or slightly bent — will be sold via this program now instead of being tossed.

AeroFarms expands to Virginia

In May, AeroFarms broke ground on a new facility in Virginia. The project will see AeroFarms build a 136,000 square-foot facility, invest a reported $53 million and hire almost 100 workers for the farm.

This year, AeroFarms also went public with an initial valuation of $1.2 billion and announced that founder David Rosenberg would be remaining the company’s CEO. Additionally, it updated its branding with a new logo and new packing for its line of greens, including microgreens, kale and baby greens. The company’s products are available at Whole Foods Markets and ShopRite Stores, as well as online via AmazonFresh and FreshDirect.

Freight Farms launches new model, Greenery S

The Greenery S is Freight Farms’ 10th generation of container farm and offers a few key updates. According to CEO Rick Vanzura, the key to this new model is the newly designed workstation that features various technical components (water and nutrient tanks, dosing panel, pumps) that are hidden from view, but accessible with a push-to-open function. Additionally, the farm comes with plant spacing guidance, LEDs throughout and other updates. The new model also offers LED customization so growers can dial in the right intensity and spectrums for their specific crops. Growers also have access to lighting recipes that are aggregated from other growers using Greenery S.