The COVID-19 Pandemic is a current reality that is forcing the global population to reassess affected industries, and plan a future that will be less dependent on the weak links in our current supply chain facing unprecedented disruptions. Travel restrictions imposed to limit the virus’s spread have resulted in migrant laborer shortages to harvest produce as mentioned in Essential, but Unprotected.
Leafy green vegetables will be the first affected due to their early spring harvest, while already facing consumer scrutiny over food safety concerns for being highly prone to foodborne diseases when grown outdoors. These vegetables are a critical part of a nutritious diet needed to support the immune systems of people. At a time like this, Leyton's client, Heliponix, is providing effective indoor gardening solutions to its customers.
The concept of decentralized agricultural production, or more commonly known as indoor gardening, enables people to grow safe and nutritious produce within their homes to minimize exposure from crowded grocery stores while shopping for highly perishable goods that require frequent visits. Gardening has the benefit of educating children who are out of school about agriculture and technology. It also improves the psychological well being of the individuals by being around aesthetically pleasing plants as well as improving indoor air quality according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
Heliponix© provides consumers with the GroPod© Smart Garden Appliance with a Seed Pod™ subscription that could be described as "Keurig for food." Their automated, hydroponic hardware combined with smart, cloud software allows anyone to become a farmer regardless of their climate, space, or existing knowledge of agriculture. Consumers enjoy Pure Produce™ that is better for their health, and the environment by reducing water consumption and food waste through local production while maintaining social distancing. Keeping the plants alive until the moment of consumption will maximize the nutritional content and taste for the user.
Co-Founder and CEO, Scott Massey stated, “We have experienced an explosion of inquiries in light of the pandemic from consumers who want control of their own produce supply. Consumers want food that tastes better, while being healthier for them from a trusted source. The GroPod makes them self-sufficient in production from our convenient seed pod subscription, and automated appliance that doesn’t require agricultural knowledge. Not only is it environmentally sustainable by avoiding the harmful pollutants of industrial agriculture, but it is also financially sustainable for the consumer who will generate a profit from the premium quality produce when all hardware, subscription, and even negligible water and energy costs are accounted for.”
Ivan Ball, Co-Founder, explains, “We are now deep into the fourth industrial revolution with blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, and IoT connecting everything in our homes to our phones. Development of these systems will provide the architecture we need to begin connecting biological organisms to our digital world.”
Computer vision and machine learning are the tools needed to understand a plant's response to a given environment and enable our automated device to adapt the environment to a plants preference in real time. Additionally a user will be able to input their prefered taste preference of a plant, for example a “sweeter basil”, so that their GroPod can cultivate a garden of plants with a personalized taste.
Already we are seeing indoor vertical farming move closer to people by growing it directly in the grocery stores. This trend from dirt to fork is compared to the ice industry of high perishable goods being decentralized and produced within the home. Heliponix is on a mission to decentralize agriculture to eliminate food waste, save water, reduce energy consumption, and become the world’s largest farming company without owning a single acre of land.
However novel the GroPod Smart Garden Appliance’s innovative design improves efficiencies, the concept of consumers growing their own food has been accomplished before. A similar mass, consumer gardening experiment was successfully orchestrated in 1943 when war-time Victory Gardens produced close to 40 percent of the country’s fresh vegetables, from about 20 million gardens in homes, schools, and community gardens. Our dependence on grocery stores will be greatly reduced by consuming produce directly from the source of a personal farm. Perhaps people may re-adopt the agrarian lifestyles of our ancestors through these automated farming appliances at a consumer level in the new gig economy.
Source: Minnesota Historical Society/Getty Images.
A poster from the Minneapolis Defense Council urged planting.
The agriculture industry is constantly innovating to improve existing technological processes, or developing new ones for increased productivity growth. In current times, shortages of transportation and labor, and supply-chain disruptions may cause financial stress on businesses in this sector. For those businesses, now is the time to look at all resources available to improve cash-flow management. One of the most viable and permanent tax incentives available to this sector is the Research & Development (R&D) Tax Credit, which can provide much needed tax savings to agricultural businesses.
During this time, and more than ever, Leyton's commercial, technical and tax teams are ready to support you. Contact us today to learn more about the R&D Tax Credit, and how it can you achieve maximum eligible financial benefit for your business.