Mark Savaya is losing money to prove a point.
In an effort to promote the CropTower, which brings greater efficiency to growing cannabis, including saving on energy, water, space, and time, the CEO and owner of Future Grow Solutions in Birmingham also uses soil and sponges to harvest plants in one of his Detroit facilities. His goal is to show potential licensees that the CropTower offers significant savings over these two traditional growing media.
Future Grow Solutions is the sole Michigan distributor of the tower. “When someone comes in here, they see every aspect of the growth,” he says.
Each hollow CropTower takes up a 9-foot-by-9-foot square of floor space and has enough holes to house 102 plants, with leaves on the outside and roots on the inside. Water and nutrients are piped through the middle of each tower, then the water is cleaned and recycled — a process that saves 90 percent of the water for reuse. Nearly-vertical rows of LED grow lights surround each tower, bathing every plant in light.
After cuttings are taken from mother plants, they grow roots and become clones. After growing in trays for 14 days, the clones are placed in CropTowers, where they become fully mature and produce flowers that are ready to harvest after 60 days — half the time of traditional marijuana growing operations. The speed of the production, together with fans that blow on the plants, serves to prevent pests, thereby eliminating the need for pesticides.
Savaya has 15 Class C licenses from the State of Michigan, and each license allows him to grow 1,500 plants at a time. While most of the Class C crops will be grown in CropTowers, Savaya will reserve two crops — one for growth in soil and one for growth in sponges — for demonstration purposes. Each of the demonstration Class C crops are grown in one of Savaya’s Detroit facilities.
Savaya also has processing and provisioning operations in the works, and holds three processing licenses and three provisioning licenses across his facilities, which include two Center Line locations, two Detroit locations, and one Lenox Township location. He began his first harvest at the end of December, and the first provisioning center was slated to open in Detroit on Jan. 1. Processing is scheduled to begin on Feb. 1.
Savaya, who expects to start leasing CropTowers in 2021, says vertical farming is a viable solution for products other than cannabis. He explains that CropTowers can house many relatively small leafy plants; one is used to grow lettuce in drought-stricken South Africa.
According to the World Economic Forum, the world’s population will grow to 9 billion by 2050, increasing food demand by some 60 percent. As such, vertical farming may become a more viable solution for feeding everyone.
“This is the new technology that (will save) the world,” Savaya says.