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This Airline Is Working With the World's Largest 'Vertical Farm' for Fresher In-Flight Meals

This Airline Is Working With the World's Largest 'Vertical Farm' for Fresher In-Flight Meals

In-flight meals that are actually enjoyable are few and far between. In part, that’s because ingredients often need to be shipped hundreds or thousands of miles from farms to airports, meaning sometimes they’re not exactly fresh. Singapore Airlines is aiming to change that with a “farm-to-plane” partnership announced Thursday with AeroFarms, a vertical indoor farming company.

At AeroFarms’ Newark, New Jersey headquarters, a variety of leafy greens are grown with only light, nutrients and oxygen — there’s no sunlight or soil to speak of. The operation, which TIME toured on Thursday, resembles a data center, but instead of racks upon racks of servers and other hardware, it has rows of plants in various stages of growth.

AeroFarms’ plants are grown atop a layer of cloth suspended over a chamber about the size of a small bathtub, into which nutrients are pumped. Instead of sunlight, the plants are exposed to LED light, the color of which can be changed depending on whatever’s best for a particular species. The company closely tracks the progress of each batch of plants, providing data that can help it refine the combination of light, nutrients, fertilizers and other factors involved. AeroFarms says its process uses 95% less water than typical farming, and doesn’t use pesticides or similar chemicals.