Blue Planet Consulting 2016 Annual Report

Blue Planet Consulting 2016 Annual Report

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Blue Planet Consulting 2016 Annual Report

  • Published on January 11, 2017

Henry Gordon-Smith

Urban Agriculture Consultant

2016 was a year of notable growth for Blue Planet Consulting. For one, we successfully acquired over 15 new client projects, many of which have already been fulfilled to completion. Servicing these clients has strengthened our core team with relevant skills and experience to keep Blue Planet Consulting (BPC) on the forefront of building a thriving urban agriculture industry.

Further keeping our team in the catbird seat of the industry is our continued management of both Sky Vegetables and Stonebridge Farms. Managing these commercial farms for our partners has supplied BPC with more of the relevant knowledge and experience to be able to provide our clients with data-driven and first-hand operator insights. Our involvement with these facilities proved highly useful in multiple client engagements in 2016. Typical urban agriculture problems surrounding waste, labor, energy, sales, and marketing are being overcome by our growing team every day.

Related: Blue Planet Consulting 2015 Annual Report

Another major 2016 development for BPC is that my blog, the Agritecture platform has signed an agreement to be added into the Blue Planet family. This move has diversified BPC’s capabilities, giving the company access to quickly communicate to a growing community of urban agriculture professionals. Agritecture’s strong audience growth in 2016 gives me confidence that BPC will continue to develop its ability to influence the industry. This partnership also allows us to grow the amount and quality of knowledge we share through the platform as we have now hired our first employee: Community Manager Andrew Blume.

2016 was a year where BPC sharpened the methodology we use to help our clients overcome the challenges of developing urban agriculture businesses. Whether those challenges are zoning complexity, site and crop selection issues, recruiting strategies, yields and waste calculations, or implementing a new sales strategy for your product – BPC has likely serviced clients with similar issues facing your team.

In the report below, we showcase some of our work in 2016, from client engagements to industry events and partnerships we have supported. These activities depict how we have helped entrepreneurs and large companies navigate the uncharted waters of planning, implementing, and operating their urban agriculture business.

Thank you for your time and interest in our company’s 2016 endeavors. On behalf of my whole team, I wish you a warm, healthy, productive, 2017!

Sincerely,

Henry Gordon-Smith

Our 2016 Client Engagements

Farm.one

We conducted a feasibility study for Rob Laing, CEO of Farm.one and helped turn his brilliant idea of growing rare culinary herbs in Manhattan into a reality. We assisted Farm.one with crop selection, site selection, design, and economic analysis. We even assisted with the installation of Farm.one. We also helped Rob recruit his head grower, the talented David Goldstein. We are happy to hear that Farm.one is expanding its operations to another facility in 2017!

CDSC

The Child Development Services Corporation (CDSC) is one of the only food banks with a vertical farm within it, providing fresh and clean produce to Clinton Hill residents in need. The farm was originally installed by Boswyck Farms 5 years ago and was in need of a retrofit. We assisted CDSC with a retrofit of the lighting, plumbing, and nutrient dosing systems. We also made the vertical farm more ergonomic for its users. CDSC benefitted from an updated management manual of the farm we developed as well as a training we conducted for their volunteers.

Foxconn

A large Chinese manufacturer wanted to explore how converting some of its facilities into a “green campus” could improve worker health and wellbeing. We provided a rapid concept development service including sketching out four interventions to their existing facilities that would improve oxygen within the factories, provide some produce for consumption, and improve overall well being. The final results were a set of renderings which we pitched to some of the companies executive team who continue to discuss the possibility of developing the green campus in 2017.

Josh Smith

Our storefront office in Brooklyn certainly catches the eyes of pedestrians passing by. Josh Smith is a local resident and world-renowned artist that saw the +FARM in our window and ask us to design a custom system for his basement. We consulted with Josh what he wanted to grow and designed a system that fit his space and budget. Now Josh and his wife can enjoy leafy greens and microgreens year-round from their home.

Los Surres

Another community group in Brooklyn that has a system originally set up by Boswyck Farms requested our services to update the system. We advised them on means to improve their management of the farm and also recommended certain equipment upgrades.

REED Academy

This organization serves special needs students and families in New Jersey. We conducted a feasibility study on the costs and benefits of converting an unused ~3,000 sf warehouse into a commercial vertical farm for the purposes of generating additional revenue for the school. Our team completed design of the farm and even conducted focus groups with local residents to determine crop selection and packaging choices. The Reed leadership and board are considering funding options and partnerships to develop the vertical farm in the near future.

Global LED Company

We were hired by a global LED manufacturer to conduct market research and analysis to understand the potential for a new product they were considering developing. Our team developed a thorough document reviewing the potential for the product, target customers, pricing, and marketing strategy recommendations.

Square Roots

We assisted Brooklyn’s newest urban farmers and its only urban agriculture accelerator Square Roots launch their first campus. Our primary contributions were on recruiting, curriculum development, and horticulture planning. Now, many of our team serve as mentors to the 10 entrepreneurs that are growing real food in shipping containers in Brooklyn. Read more about Square Roots here.

Grownex Salad Wall

Grownex USA chose us to help them launch their brand and new product Salad Wall at NYC AgTech Week. We were happy to assist them by building their first US website, social media accounts, and marketing strategy. We also displayed their system in our office getting them their first customer as a result of the exposure we provided them. Grownex is growing its sales to the US market in 2017 and Blue Planet Consulting is excited to continue to help them share their unique product Salad Wall with the US market.

Phillips Programs (Phase II)

Two years after helping our first client Phillips Programs in Maryland install a hydroponics learning lab (pictured), we were able to help them design their next phase: an additional six vertical microgreens systems. For this project we partnered with our local contacts at Modernature and co-designed cultivation systems that were appropriate for the Programs’ special needs students. Phase II of the Phillips’ Growing Futures Program is set to launch in Spring 2017.

BMoreAg

Also in Maryland, this client is interested in making a big impact on jobs and food security in Baltimore. We are assisting this client with concept development for now and eventually a full feasibility study. The plan is to convert a large vacant lot into a productive mix of vertical farming and greenhouse operation with an on-site market.

Goler CDC

We are very excited to be working with Goler CDC, one of Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s well known community groups. Our role in their latest project is to provide a comprehensive feasibility study on converting a vacant lot into a series of greenhouses. This project is currently in progress with the site visit complete and crop selection underway. We will be providing Goler CDC with everything they need to get the project moving forward including equipment selection, economic analysis, management planning, and recruiting. The project is set to break ground in 2017.

Global Investor

We provide a benchmarking and case study report to a global investor interested in understanding the ins and outs of vertical farming. The list was comprehensive and included both case study data and analysis from our team of consultants and the investment climate of the emerging vertical farming industry.

Entrepreneur in Dubai

CJ is a young Dubai-based Indian entrepreneur looking to launch a model for vertical farming in Mumbai, India. We are developing a vertical farming concept for CJ that considers the opportunities and challenges of the local market and climate. Crop selection, pre-sqf costs, and a pitch deck are in progress to help CJ raise money for his unique vertical farming idea.

2016 Agritecture Workshops

In 2016 we conducted three Agritecture workshops:

·     Fresno, CA (Feb)

·     London, UK (June)

·     Boston, MA (Dec)

These three 2016 workshops have brought the total number of Agritecture workshops to seven (7). Agritecture workshops match interdisciplinary teams of architects, growers, entrepreneurs, engineers, marketers, designers, and sustainability managers together for a shared mission: to develop a viable “agritecture” concept for the host city. 

The Agritecture Design Workshops comprise of three teams, each matched with the goal of demonstrating creativity, sustainability, and feasibility when integrating agriculture into cities. On-site mentors from Blue Planet Consulting guide participants through urban agriculture project planning, hydroponic agriculture, and sustainability. 

In the past, Agritecture Workshops were typically planned in partnership with the Association for Vertical Farming. For the Boston Agritecture Workshop, and for future workshops, this will no longer be the case. The AVF has indicated they will seek to develop their own proprietary workshop series, although they may still occasionally promote future Agritecture workshops.

We would like to thank our main sponsors for the three 2016 workshops included the following companies:

Agritecture also began offering sponsored content packages in 2016. These packages helped innovative companies showcase their products or services to our audience of 30,000+ vertical and urban farming enthusiasts. Contact Andrew@agritecture.com for more information on how you can reach our primarily millennial and gen-X audience.

2016 Milestones 

January

  • Visited the first installed Growtainer in NYC
  • Completed DIY vertical farming kits for 2016 client Bergen Academies

February

  • Hosted Agritecture Workshop in Fresno, California
  • Attended GFIA conference in Abu Dhabi
  • Attended FarmTek CEA Workshop
  • Acquired new client CDSC
  • Acquired new client Foxconn
  • Became an Autodesk Entrepreneur Impact Partner

March

  • Attended U of A CEAC Short Course
  • Attended and Spoke at Thought For Food Summit in Zurich, Switzerland

April

  • Attended Indoor Ag Con
  • Participated in Urban Agriculture Roundtable with Brooklyn Borough President’s Office
  • Acquired new client Los Surres
  • Acquired new client Reed Academy
  • Initiated the California Urban Agriculture Collective
  • Attended Food + Future CoLab event @ IDEO in Boston
  • Acquired new client Josh Smith

May

  • Attended Silicon Valley AgTech Conference
  • Spoke at first AgroHack conference in Puerto Rico
  • Acquired new client Global LED Manufacturer
  • Hired West Coast Representative David Ceaser

June

  • Sponsored AVF Summit 2016
  • Conducted first international Agritecture Workshop in London, England

July

  • Acquired new client Square Roots Urban Growers

August

  • Acquired new client Grownex USA
  • Hired Djavid Abraham as our new Lead Systems Designer

September

  • Acquired new client Global Investor
  • Started phase II for client Phillips Programs
  • Hired MIT CityFarm veteran Elaine Kung to join our team as a designer

October

November

  • Hired Andrew Blume to join our team as our Community Manager for Agritecture.com
  • Spoke at Building Success event sponsored by Microdesk in San Francisco
  • Acquired new client Goler CDC
  • Attended Seedstock Grow Local OC event

December

Our 2017 Strategy & Outlook

2016 was a big year for proving that Blue Planet Consulting’s methodology and team are capable of meeting industry challenges. Our acquisition of high-profile customers such as Foxconn, Square Roots, and Southern Company are evidence that as urban agriculture becomes more mainstream in 2017, BPC will play a role in assisting more high-profile organizations to enter the space successfully.

While we are ecstatic to have worked with these influential customers, we are also proud that we continued our practice of servicing school and institutional clients at a reduced rate. We’re excited to continue working for these small niche customers and adding more value to their installations with the introduction of the +FARM in 2017. We work with these clients because corporate social responsibility is a major motivating factor for our team. Thus, we fully intend to continue devoting resources to communities and clients of all shapes and sizes in 2017.

I can’t think of a more perfect example of how we will engage with big and small, business and education, industry and community, then the Aglanta Conference on February 19th, 2017. Aglanta will be organized by BPC, the Mayor’s Office of Atlanta, and by the conference’s platinum level sponsor, Southern Company. Alongside these entities will be Aglanta’s keynote speaker, Stephen Ritz, who is the undisputed champion of growing in schools.

I encourage you to purchase tickets to Aglanta here or contact me to get your company involved. There are still some exciting opportunities to exhibit or sponsor the event!

Only a crystal ball with tell us exactly how urban agriculture will manifest in 2017. While there are challenges and risks, we are confident that this is the year lucrative and impactful businesses will emerge. If you intend to pioneer and develop alongside the industry, we encourage you to contact us to see how we can work together to turn your growing aspirations into growing operations.

Request your urban agriculture, greenhouse, or vertical farming feasibility study here.

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