Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 11:55AM EDT
ATLANTA – PodPonics, an innovative, Atlanta-based produce company, announced today that it has signed a lease with the Atlanta Development Authority (ADA), as agent for the Atlanta Economic Renaissance Corporation, to relocate and expand to Southside Industrial Park. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta City Councilmember Joyce M. Sheperd have strongly encouraged PodPonics’ arrival in the area, which is situated under the flight path of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. The expansion furthers PodPonics’ mission to build environmentally conscious growing environments that serve metropolitan hubs and also supports the city’s goal to create jobs and revitalize the inactive urban site.
Currently PodPonics operates five “pods” – recycled shipping containers repurposed to grow produce – in the company’s original location on Ponce de Leon Avenue. The pods’ growth environment is regulated by a proprietary, computer-controlled system that provides crops with the exact amount of light, water and other nutrients they need. The system also controls factors such as temperature, humidity and CO2 levels to create an ideal growth environment optimized for each crop and its growth cycle stage. PodPonics generates produce that is pesticide-free and superior in flavor, texture and nutritional value since it is consumed within hours of harvest. The environmental benefits are equally compelling: greatly reduced land use, no pesticide or fertilizer runoff and drastically decreased dependence on foreign oil for tilling, fertilization, harvest and transport while investment, opportunity and jobs locally, right here in the metro area.
After reviewing the project and PodPonics’ plans to develop in the Atlanta area, Mayor Reed emphatically endorsed the initiative, recognizing the significant benefits PodPonics brings to the local economy.
“I’m delighted that PodPonics has selected Southside Industrial Park to house their innovative urban agricultural operation that will employ up to 30 people over the next two years,” said Mayor Reed. “I also want to acknowledge the Atlanta Development Authority for their work in creating an Opportunity Zone for this industrial park and for having the creativity to find a use for this unique industrial space. With its close proximity to three interstate highways, a major rail line, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and strong economic development incentive programs, Southside Industrial Park is an ideal location for PodPonics and other industrial businesses.”
Southside Industrial Park was built 25 years ago and has been occupied by manufacturers and distributors drawn by the area’s proximity to nearby transportation routes. The new PodPonics site will hold 100 pods that can each grow the equivalent of 1.5 acres worth of produce. Atlanta City Councilmember Joyce M. Sheperd, Board member of the ADA and council representative for District 12 where the Southside Industrial Park is located, was introduced to the project by the ADA and became involved to support PodPonics’ development of new jobs and use of previously dormant real estate.
“I am excited to work on this new partnership with Podponics and ADA as they work to enhance our community in many ways,” said Councilmember Sheperd. “Not only is this new initiative supporting the community through innovative, eco-friendly efforts but they are also committed to providing jobs for community members and re-vamping abandoned property into positive economic development.”
Established in 2010, PodPonics currently supplies 75 pounds of lettuce, arugula, watercress and other micro-greens per week to leading Atlanta restaurants and grocery retailers. Recently signed contracts with some of the country’s leading produce distributors, will increase market demand seven-fold, necessitating additional pods and a larger site. Expanding to Southside Industrial Park will allow the business to continue its growth and make use of land that has lain dormant for many years while creating jobs and opportunity to help revitalize the Southwest area of Atlanta.
“We were pleased to have the opportunity to work with PodPonics to support their growth in the City of Atlanta,” said Gregg Simon, manager of business engagement for the Atlanta Development Authority. “There are many appealing aspects to the PodPonics project, including the use of this land in the Industrial Park, their mission of urban agriculture to support healthy food products and their willingness to hire employees from the surrounding neighborhood.”
PodPonics is the future of farming. The Atlanta-based company answers the growing consumer demand for local food by producing it in urban centers, using an approach that does not require arable land. PodPonics utilizes a proprietary system that integrates advanced hydroponics, proprietary lighting, irrigation and nutrient technology with process control. Their growing system reduces cost, improves product quality and creates local jobs while answering the strong and growing demand for locally produced, natural foods.
The PodPonics approach to next-generation urban agriculture provides a number advantages over traditional farming, including year-round crop production, much higher crop density and predictable results and the elimination of crop failures caused by weather or pests. PodPonics meets these goals using far less water and foreign oil than traditional agriculture, without employing harmful pesticides. The benefits of the approach include providing a healthy, natural product grown in a controlled environment at or near the point of consumption.
PodPonics currently supplies lettuce to leading local restaurants such as 4th & Swift, Serpas True Food, Rathbun’s, Pura Vida, Farm Burger and Goin’ Coastal Seafood and retailers such as Savi Urban Market and Market Across the Street. For more information on PodPonics growing technology or crops, please visit www.podponics.com.
About Atlanta Development Authority
The Atlanta Development Authority (ADA) is the official economic development agency for the City of Atlanta. The ADA represents in-town Atlanta, a population of 500,000 and growing. A research-based economic development organization, the ADA focuses on residential, business and investment growth in the city. The ADA is governed by a nine-member board of directors, chaired by the mayor of Atlanta, and their core competency is real estate finance. The ADA has 50 employees and partners with over 55 economic development partner organizations regularly. For more information, please visit www.atlantada.com.