Serious indoor agriculture used to be reserved for people who were into black lights and excessive incense burning, but the times are definitely changing. Now, a number of savvy business folk are investing in vertical indoor farming as a means of serious food production. One such startup, FarmedHere, hopes to lead the charge to turn us all into farmers. We’ve written about the company’s efforts in the past, but the new CEO Matt Matros has plans for the future that could bring vertical indoor farming to every corner of the country.

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Matros stepped into the CEO role earlier this year, and he has ambitious plans for the startup. FarmedHere currently runs a 90,000-square-foot facility in Bedford Park, and Matros is planning to open as many as 20 new facilities across the U.S. that would each serve consumers within a 200-mile radius. He sees the vertical farming movement as the answer to the imminent challenge of feeding the world’s growing population. “Everything about this business is good, and it solves a really big problem,” Matros told the Chicago Tribune in a July interview. “We’re going to have nine billion people in the world by 2050. What are we going to feed them?”

Related: World’s largest rooftop farm sprouts 10 million pesticide-free crops each year

Indoor farming has a lot of perks. In a climate-controlled environment, ‘farmers’ don’t have to become weather forecasting experts. Light, temperature, moisture, and nutrients are all carefully managed in an aquaponics system that feels a lot more like a laboratory than a field. Given the continued decline in bee populations that threatens traditional agriculture, alternative methods of food production are becoming more valuable than ever.

FarmedHere has been supplying its products – mostly greens and herbs – to Chicago area retailers and restaurants since 2011. Expanding to new locations will help serve commercial and retail consumers in new markets, but Matros also wants to enable hobbyist growers to produce more food in their homes. “Each farm is fully modular. I joke that each farm is like a LEGO block and you just need to drop it wherever you want to put a farm,” Matros told the Guardian. “We have these LEGO boxes and we know how they work and we just have to put them together and drop them.”

Via The Guardian

Images via FarmedHere