AeroFarms COO Lisa Newman Feeds On Technology

AeroFarms COO Lisa Newman Feeds On Technology

Lisa Newman, COO of Newark-based AeroFarms, always starts her day by checking on her plants. “I’m a grower first and foremost,” she says, “a modern farmer.” But her work as a high-tech startup leader is her second order of business.

Every day, between 9AM and 10AM, Newman is in an operations meeting with every division at “the farm”—engineering, research and development, construction, and human resources. Then she spends the rest of her day working and meeting with her teams individually, not leaving the farm until 6:30PM or 7PM.

“My schedule never goes as I have it planned,” Newman says. “In a startup, you wear a lot of different hats.”

Before joining AeroFarms, Newman worked at Dupont Pioneer for 13 years, researching automated software systems and imaging technology. Her experience inspired her to bring that technology to agriculture.

The plants at the Newark AeroFarms facility—the crops grown on the farm, if you will—are grown aeroponically and surveyed by different imaging systems—from closed-circuit cameras to multi-spectral images.

In aeroponic farming, plants are grown on cloth with their roots floating underneath so growers need only apply a mist of water to them. This method uses less land and less water than both traditional field farming and even hydroponic farming, which also doesn’t require soil but uses a nutrient-rich water solution. Aeroponic farming is the perfect way to grow fresh food in urban areas.

“Our whole business model is creating urban farms in underserved communities and providing good jobs,” Newman says.

AeroFarms, a clean-technology company that builds and operates advanced vertical farms in urban environments, was founded in 2004 in upstate New York. The company moved into Newark in 2011 and opened its third facility there in 2017. AeroFarms currently operates three facilities in the state of New Jersey.

Over the next few years, Newman hopes to share this technology they are developing in Newark with urban farms across America and around the world. She’s hoping to grow more kinds of produce and waste none of it—even the parts of the plants that are typically thrown away. Leading the way in zero-waste will keep AeroFarms at the forefront of sustainable farming.

“We are the leaders in the industry,” Newman remarks.

AeroFarms’ greens are available at Whole Foods Markets and ShopRite stores in various New Jersey neighborhoods, including right here on Broad Street and Springfield Avenue, respectively.

Their baby greens make a tasty salad for lunch or a side dish for dinner. “The stems can be used for pestos and juices,” Newman adds. All from healthy greens grown in Newark using the future of farming. 

DreamPlay Media Takes Video Up a Notch

DreamPlay Media Takes Video Up a Notch

DreamPlay Media is growing from its roots in filmmaking into marketing for the digital age. A six-year old creative media company with offices in Newark and Los Angeles, DreamPlay creates video content that helps organizations and companies expand their digital reach. To date, the company has more than 150 projects under its belt, counting the Consulate General of Portugal, the Ironbound Business Improvement District, and the Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation among its clients.

The operation relies not just on creative storytelling but on advanced technology, as well. “We’ve helped create a market and mindset for cinematic storytelling,” says Igor Alves, who co-founded the company with his brother Yuri.

All clients and partners see is an expert execution of their message, but DreamPlay makes the magic happen with everything they do behind the scenes. They shoot B-roll (background footage) on SLR cameras with at least 1080 pixel resolution, and upload their raw footage to Adobe Creative Cloud for postproduction—to make cuts and edits, and optimize the video for various digital platforms.

“We use Vimeo in conjunction with Facebook and Instagram for original content distribution,” Alves explains. “The footage needs to meet different specs according to the network that it’s on.”

Everything from subtitles to cover images will vary based on platform specifications, and the team runs batteries of tests to make sure all their videos are optimized. The finished work is added to a continually evolving content library, where creative and technological progress is logged and tracked.

Alves hopes that sharing the stories they create online will draw a global audience. He wants to build a sustainable digital marketing model and form content distribution partnerships that go beyond DreamPlay. One project is already in the works.

“By early spring, our DreamPlay.TV series will be fleshed out and the site will be complete,” he says.

The DreamPlay team specializes in creating content that speaks to wide audiences and that works across all technological devices. The company’s overall goal is to create quality content—not just clickbait—that has significance and longevity.

“We want the storytelling to have meaning,” Alves says. “We want it to be something that we and the partners can stand behind.” 

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