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KCBS Cover Story: Silicon Valley Execs Try To Revolutionize Farming

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Greens from Ectopia Farms (ectopiafarms.com)

Greens from Ectopia Farms (ectopiafarms.com)

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CAMPBELL (KCBS) – Farming innovation is underway in a warehouse in Silicon Valley as two former business heavyweights have embraced the technology used to grow microgreens, while applying highly sustainable practices.

Sam Araki, former head of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, along with Ko Nishimura, the former CEO of Solectron, founded Ecopia Farms in Campbell, a venture in urban farming located inside a warehouse.

“We’ve known each other for many, many years and we decided we’re going to get together and revolutionize farming,” said Sam Araki, the former president of .

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

“We make pristine produce. They’re tasty, they’re very good looking, highly nutritious and organic,” said Nishimura.

Inside the warehouse, it’s a vision of vertical farming with tall shelving units holding greens in shallow planter boxes, warmed by LED lights – offering precise wavelengths of light.

“In about 3,000 square feet of space, we’re doing about the equivalent of 15 acres of farmland,” said Ecopia Vice President Jim Spencer, who said the secret is in the soil, which is precise for individual plants and requires just three percent of the water of a conventional farm.

“We spent a lot of time thinking about the soil and making sure we have the soil that will bring out the natural flavor that the plant wants to get,” said Spencer.

Ecopia’s greens and flowers are featured in some of the Bay Area’s best restaurants, including flour + water, The Slanted Door and Michael Mina, all in San Francisco.

The produce can also be grown to order, cut in the morning and delivered by mid-afternoon.

“We could actually make it the size that the chefs want this stuff. It’s very uniform,” said Nishimura.

Ecopia has begun selling directly to the public at Ecopiadirect.com and they will have a booth at this weekend’s SF Chefs event in Union Square.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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