Industry disruptor working to solve hunger for 1.1 billion people

By: Mauricio Cordova Flores, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

OnePointOne vertical farm start-up focuses on the power of plants that can help address food insecurity worldwide. When brothers Sam and John Bertram learned that 1.1 billion people began this millennium suffering from food insecurity, they started on a journey to create technology that can help address this world problem; that is when together they decided to start OnePointOne.

I had the opportunity to visit their headquarters and the Opollo fully automated vertical farming system as part of an ASU graduate cohort tour. We had the pleasure of meeting with Sam; he is the CEO and Co-founder of OnepointOne.  Sam welcomed us and gave us a presentation on their mission and technology.  By listening to him talk about their company, we understood their passion for healthy food made available to everyone in the world. As we know, food is life and a right, not a privilege.

They have combined technology and science to create an agricultural process that can potentially grow any plant in the world. Because this automated environment can replicate any climate, the sky is the limit when it comes to the crops it can produce and when. The seasonality of crops would no longer be an obstacle for any farmer with this technology to farm any crop year-round.

They are looking to produce everyday food and plants that can be used to develop medicine. Some of the benefits of their technology are the use of 99% less water, 95% less human labor, the production of over 250x more plants per acre, and three times the shelf life of products farmed with traditional agricultural techniques. Because of the type of environment used, their products are 100% pesticide free.

Their Opollo Farms are powered by their Farm Operating System (FarmOS). Instead of creating proprietary hardware, their Vertical-Plane Aeroponics is integrated with exciting technology. The Opollo fully automated plant production system uses AI to monitor the growth and needs of the plants. It takes an image scan of the plants several times a day and can adjust as needed the amount of water, nutrients, and light that the plants need to grow. This allows OnePointOne to produce consistent quality, taste, and nutrient density, which can be a challenge in traditional agriculture. One of the goals of “Farming as a Service” is to achieve plant perfection. Their FarmOS provides analytics, learning AI, full automation, and control of the farming environment.  Technologies like OnePointOne’s have the potential to be a viable and transformative solution to overcome the effects of climate change in our food systems and to feed our growing population.

You can even order their products through Willo, currently available in the Phoenix metro area. I have signed up for their newsletter and will be looking forward to ordering from them when it is available in my community in California.

This blog is part of a series from the December 2022 Arizona immersive component of the MS in Sustainable Food Systems Program. Students toured the state, meeting with farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, government staff, and non-profit leaders.