Tommy Harwood Delves Into Jeff Bezos-Backed Agriculture Startup, Plenty

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Entrepreneur and farming expert Tommy Harwood provides a professional insight into Plenty, the so-called ‘vertical agriculture’ startup backed by founder Jeff Bezos.


Backed by high-profile technology executives including founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Plenty—the so-called ‘vertical agriculture’ startup—is an indoor farming venture which promises to shine a new light on the way people ‘do’ food. The company has, however, this month shelved plans to launch a major new Seattle-area operation. Entrepreneur and farming expert Tommy Harwood provides a closer look at what’s happening at the revolutionary agricultural startup. 


“Plenty has this month announced that they’ve canceled plans to establish a major new farm in the Seattle area of Washington,” reveals Harwood, a farming expert and entrepreneur based in southern Humboldt County, California. 


“Still,” he continues, “the firm shows no sign of slowing down, especially in its home state, California, where sales of its products, in particular, such as ‘Starlight Baby Kale’ and ‘Wild Wasabi Baby Arugula’ are booming.” 


Plenty’s farms claim to use 99 percent less land and as much as 95 percent less water than traditional farming to grow crops which are both non-GMO and pesticide-free. “Their aim?” asks Harwood, rhetorically. “To service, they say, healthier plants, healthier people, and a healthier planet,” adds the expert.  


It’s understood, according to farming expert Tommy Harwood, that Plenty’s plans to expand into the state of Washington have been changed due to questions over whether or not the company’s proposed site could accommodate operations. “Plenty announced that it had changed plans to expand into Washington,” he explains, “as doubts arose over whether or not the proposed site in Kent, 20 miles from Seattle, could suitably accommodate the ever-evolving Plenty vertical farming model.” 


The official word is that Plenty deemed the best course of action to be to ‘hibernate’ Seattle, according to a statement made by the firm’s senior director of integrated marketing. The five-year-old startup grows crops in tall towers contained within climate-controlled facilities lit with LED lighting. 


Last month, Plenty announced its plans to open a brand new, next-generation farm in Los Angeles. “The Los Angeles project, with Washington now in ‘hibernation,'” adds Harwood, wrapping up, “would mark Plenty’s first successful expansion outside of current operations in and around San Francisco plus one ‘plant science’ site in Laramie, Wyoming.”


Entrepreneur Tommy Harwood, a resident of Whitethorn, California, moved to southern Humboldt County in 1996. Determined to create a successful business opportunity both for himself and the community, in 2007, Harwood established Southern Humboldt Farm, Feed & Ag Supply, Inc., now known as Redway Feed, Garden & Pet Supply. Today, the company supports the local economy and employs over 25 members of the small and tightly knit Redway community. Harwood’s other business ventures, meanwhile, include Crop King—a garden supply retailer—and Good Elements, Inc., which provides hiring, accounting, marketing, licensing, and other business management services to a wide range of clients both in Humboldt County and further afield.