How LED Lights Help Grow the Finest Microgreens in Philadelphia

Adam Green was pursuing a career in filmmaking when he realized his real passion was raising the finest microgreens for the world’s top chefs. Now, the 25-year-old directs AGreen Farms, an indoor hydroponic farm in Philadelphia that specializes in selling garnishes to restaurants and hospitality establishments. Of course, it’s not easy to make a mint while growing mint in the city, and that’s why Green is investing in LED horticulture lighting from Current, to produce herbs and edible flowers that make culinary pros go wild.

Seeds of Inspiration

At Drexel University, Green dabbled in business, cinema and screenwriting before finding that his true calling was not behind a camera but in a kitchen, sharing locally grown food with those who can appreciate the finer points of pea shoots.

“I realized the thing that made me happiest was food―eating the highest-quality food, stopping at farmers markets, making connections with the farmers―it was really exciting to me,” he says. “Growing my own food and knowing where it came from attracted me to agriculture, and I felt I could put a sound business case behind it.”

Green soon found himself in New York City, working as a sales intern for Farm.One. The technology-powered urban vertical farm grows a diversity of special crops for local chefs and gave Green the confidence he needed to step out on his own.

“My job was to find customers and sell them the best products,” he recalls. “I developed a rapport with chefs, and it was incredible to see the emotional impact when you bring them an excellent product they can’t get elsewhere. It’s about more than garnishing a plate; these ingredients are what make a great pesto or add layers of flavor to a dish. That’s when I knew I wanted to bring the same experience to chefs in Philadelphia.”

Sprouting Upward

Green launched AGreen Farms in 2018 in a mixed-use building in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. The 5,000-square-foot operation includes 3,500 square feet of grow space dedicated to microgreens and edible flowers of all kinds, many of them rare to the region. Helping Green get his indoor farm off the ground was Hort Americas, a leading horticulture supply company. As the operation came together, the conversation turned to lighting arrangements that could allow the fledgling farm to flourish.

Current delivered the right mix of education and planning for the 5,000 sq. ft. facility

“Hort Americas and specifically our rep Kyle Barnett were just very passionate about what we were doing and helped us source all the equipment we needed,” says Green. “Not only selling us the right products but educating us on making the best decisions is what Kyle and his team brought to the table, and that made it easy for us to work with them.”

More than 14,000 Arize Life Lights Installed Graphic

After hearing Green’s goals for the farm, Barnett created unique light plans for the operation and found that the Arize® Life light was the perfect fit. The system provides different light spectrums to promote all stages of plant growth. Importantly, Current’s varied light recipes offer the ideal spectrum for the unique needs of AGreen’s crops.

“Most of our farm is growing microgreens under pink light that helps them thrive, and then we have flowers that respond well to a reproductive purple light,” Green says. “We are currently in the middle of testing our first round of crops, and I will definitely say that the lighting is my last concern right now. I recently delivered some product to a very discerning chef, and he looked at the clamshells and said, ‘These are beautiful.’ Our opinion is that LED was the right answer, absolutely.”

More than 1,400 Arize Life LED lamps were installed at AGreen Farms to cultivate everything from Swiss chard to celosia to cilantro. As Green explains, microgreens demand more care than most crops to produce consistently amazing results.

The system provides different light spectrums to promote all stages of plant growth.

“When you’re growing garnishes, it’s all about the taste, texture and aesthetics to produce the high-quality products that these incredible chefs deserve. The lights have a positive impact on making things crunch more or turn a darker green, for instance, and that’s what you need to walk into a kitchen with confidence and show someone something they haven’t seen before.”

Sage Advice

Bill Green, a self-admitted serial entrepreneur, is Adam’s father and author of the book All In. In it, he offers practical advice for cracking the code of success in the business world, including to approach every challenge with genuine enthusiasm.

“Adam enjoys talking to chefs, and sales is clearly his sweet spot,” says Bill Green, who brings 40 years of executive counsel and guidance to AGreen Farms. “I thought the plan he set forth really made sense, because he’s not trying to build a giant to compete against the biggest names―he knows his niche and what certain chefs are looking for, and his passion to customize that experience is what will shape his business.”

The lights help enhance the plants’ taste, texture and aesthetics.

For Adam Green, perfect pentas blooms are a mark he will never stop aiming for, but with help from Current and Hort Americas, this young grower has already hit the mark with LED lighting for his budding operation. Beyond vibrant, leafy crops, AGreen Farms will also benefit from the significant energy savings LED can deliver compared to conventional light sources. It all adds up to a tasty finishing touch at the finest restaurants in Philadelphia.

“Giving chefs the best tools in their arsenal is what we’re all about,” he says. “Based on our first year in business, I don’t expect a shortage of customers anytime soon.”

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