July 24, 2024

Innovation & Tech Today

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Taking Growing Indoors, Naturally, with Innovative Indoor Lighting Tech

One can forgive Kurt Kucera if enthusiasm bursts from his voice whenever he talks of working in the Grand Junction area. Besides bringing perhaps the most innovative indoor grow lighting technology, Violet Gro, to the Fruitas Valley, Kucera is also on the front lines of transforming indoor growing itself.

“With Violet Gro, people have the opportunity to move indoors, which creates additional sustainability and all sorts of benefits,” Kucera, the director of Violet Gro’s Colorado operation, said. “This is where we see the future going, especially in the United States, where we’re losing available, farmable land, and in third-world countries, with their minimal or devastated power grids, such as the Caribbean nations hard hit by hurricanes.”

Violet Gro is part of Violet Defense, an indoor lighting technology that deploys germ-killing lights and a combination of violet and UV light, known as the Surface Air Germ Elimination (S.A.G.E.) system. The light source combines with a highly transmissive lens to produce greater photonic energy — which reaches the cellular level. Using the same germ-killing light rays as the sun, the S.A.G.E. system kills up to 99 percent of germs — compared to the 50 percent of germs that typically remained after standard sanitation of countertops and product surfaces.

Imagine planting hundreds of acres of crops and coming out with virtually no pests or diseased plants – without using herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides. That’s the degree of impact with Violet Defense and Violet Gro technology.

“The biggest issue we deal with is chemicals — cleaning chemicals, agricultural chemicals,” said Terrance Berrand, Violet Defense President and CEO. “Chemicals are not conducive to human interaction. A couple of studies in Europe have shown that people with cleaning jobs are exposed to the equivalent of smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day.

“We provide a more sustainable, cleaner, and greener way of killing germs. Our view is that the S.A.G.E. technology does what the sun has done for a billion years – using UV rays to destroy germs at the cellular level.”

Five years after Violet Defense Founder Mark Nathan first began toying with the technology, the company rolled out its first products in May 2017. Now, just over a year later, it’s also rolling out Violet Gro to assist indoor growers of all stripes. Kucera pointed out the many benefits of going inside with the growth-inducing, germ-killing technology. They include reducing or eliminating pesticide use; greater yields; reducing water use; eliminating runoff and evaporation; and healthier farming all the way around.

Now, they have a presence on Colorado’s Western Slope, one of the nation’s primary cannabis growing areas. With hemp and cannabis exploding in both popularity and need for growing space, Kucera feels the timing is perfect for Violet Gro — and not just for the hemp farmers.

“We have strong relationships in Colorado with general agriculture clients, as well as hemp growers,” he said. “We have the capability and capacity with our synergistic­ partners to do deep research and development and create new opportunities to deploy the product. Currently, our customer base is roughly 70/30 towards hemp, but we’re getting more and more into general agriculture.”

There is also a highly positive, unintended consequence of indoor farming’s rise on the back of products like Violet Gro: the reuse of abandoned large retail buildings and distribution centers. “We have clients looking at obtaining buildings, and we expect to see this increasing everywhere as we move our agriculture indoors to increase yield and be more sustainable in this changed climate,” Kucera said.

Violet Defense and Violet Gro plan to extend far beyond their Orlando headquarters and Grand Junction operations base. “We’re talking to people in Washington, Oregon, California, Oklahoma, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, New York, Iowa, and overseas,” Berrand said. “We have no intention of confining our conversations to any particular geography.”

Picture of By Robert Yehling

By Robert Yehling

Robert Yehling is a former Editorial Director of Sustainability Today, and STEM Today. He is the author, co-author and ghostwriter of 18 books, including the acclaimed "Just Add Water" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the biography of autistic surfing great Clay Marzo, a finalist for the 2015 Dotty Gray Literature Award for outstanding writing on autism; and “Writes of Life: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life” (Open Books Press), called by the Midwest Book Review “the most comprehensive, diverse, and enjoyable writing exercise book on the market.”

Yehling has edited and shepherded more than 130 books in all genres,
including New York Times bestselling memoirist Lynne Martin ("Home Sweet Anywhere"), and 2015 International Book Award and IPPY Gold Medal winner for Visionary Fiction Lynnda Pollio ("Trusting the Currents"). His engaging, informative presentations have inspired writers for 15 years, and take him to conferences and classrooms throughout the country.

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