While the arrival of COVID-19 has curtailed growth for many startups, Element Farms, a year-round hydroponic grower of pesticide-free leafy greens located in Lafayette, New Jersey, is increasing its activities due to the increasing demand for fresh produce. With the uncertainty and fear brought on by the global pandemic, consumers have been engaging in panic-shopping and buying in bulk, which has greatly impacted the supply of goods to grocery stores and placed a higher demand on farmers and manufacturers across the supply chain.

The eLab startup was founded in 2016 by Serdar Mizrakci, ’17, Danny Jancezko, ’17, and Genna Mazor under the name PureSpinach with one goal: “to grow the purest, best-tasting greens for the most people possible.” To get the startup off the ground, Mizrakci and Jancezko completed independent studies at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, collaborated with Johnson MBA students, and relied on their own experiences as entrepreneurs and engineers.  PureSpinach—now known as Element Farms—uses age-old farming wisdom, cutting-edge proprietary technology, and sustainable energy sources to produce “extra clean and ultra-pure” leafy greens at a higher yield and lower cost than competitors. 

The company was on a growth track prior to COVID-19. In November 2019, Element Farms scaled up business by moving operations into its new 70,000 square foot greenhouse facility. This move gave the company the ability to produce over half a million pounds each year of fresh, pesticide-free, leafy greens, including spinach, arugula, kale, pea shoots, and various lettuces. The move to the new greenhouse facility in Lafayette, New Jersey, also gave the startup a closer proximity to strategic delivery routes, allowing for the delivery of produce to major retailers within 24 hours of harvest.

Element Farms is working harder than ever to continue supplying its produce to customers that shop at the 31 ShopRite locations and other grocery stores that carry its products and quickly responding to delivery requests when store shelves have been depleted of greens. The company has also been helping local food banks and looking into how it might be able to assist area hospitals. “The community has been good to us,” stated Mazor, co-founder and CMO, in a recent New Jersey Herald article, “We felt welcomed by the community and are grateful we can be of service in these uncertain times.”

The increase in demand has opened up employment opportunities at Element Farms. The company is currently hiring immediate full-time and part-time positions for delivery drivers and greenhouse workers, who can help with seeding, packing produce, and other operational roles. As the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in many workers being put out of work, this is a great opportunity to keep employment rates up in the community. Those interested in applying are encouraged to contact: [email protected].