The average head of lettuce travels 2,000 miles before it reaches a grocery store. Fresh, local produce is hard to come by without paying a premium at a farmer’s market or CSA. At Iron Ox, we believe everyone should have access to high quality, truly fresh produce — so we’re making it happen.
At our greenhouse in San Carlos, California, we use robots to carefully seed, water, and care for each plant. The individual attention each Iron Ox plant receives is infeasible with human labor alone; our automation enables us to provide better produce.
We plant only non-GMO varietals selected for taste, not what’s easiest to ship — the main reason grocery store produce is so bland. And because we harvest daily, our produce is hours fresh when it hits stores and restaurants.
Our hydroponic system uses 90% less water than an outdoor farm, and we purify the water through reverse osmosis for cleaner growing.
We don’t use pesticides — only natural pest controllers like ladybugs. And given that we grow indoors, we don’t have to worry about animals or rodents stopping by for lunch.
We — founders Brandon Alexander and Jon Binney — met working at Willow Garage in 2012. Between Brandon’s experience at Google[x] and Jon’s PhD in robotics, we saw a future in robotics technology, and wanted to use it for good. Crop production was an easy fit; Brandon spent his childhood working on a farm and knew that the traditional model wasn’t working.
We road-tripped across California, talking to dozens of farmers and their employees. We heard the same things: Labor is costly and hard to find, and high quality produce needs constant care. And it’s all expensive.
So we worked out a plan for something smarter and cheaper. In 2016, we were accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator incubator program, and we built Iron Ox, hiring talent from Boeing and Cornell University to make our new and improved greenhouse a reality.
Now, we sell to restaurants and grocery stores in the Bay Area and have our eye on expansion. With a scalable model that’s easy to implement in other locales, we hope to take our greenhouses to food deserts and areas around the world where premium produce is in low supply.