Harvest Nation’s Indoor Aeroponic Farming Systems Solve Food Insecurity, Boost Local Economies

Denise Pieratos (top left), the primary founder and CEO of Harvest Nation, was recently recognized as one of the most influential persons of the year by Twin Cities Business Magazine. Her co-founders are her daughters Dani Pieratos (top right) and Nicole (Nikki) Love (lower right), who serve as president sales and marketing, and as treasurer, respectively, and her sister Tracey Dagen (lower left), who leads as Chief Operating Officer.

Four Anishinaabeg Ikweg (Indigenous Women)  founded Harvest Nation, a business that designs and implements vertical aeroponic farms. 

So what is indoor aeroponic farming? It’s producing food without the use of soil. 

The revolutionary design allows communities — irregardless of location, climate, economic constraint or other hindrances — to grow heirloom vegetables and fruits on multilevel production platforms.

The unique agricultural style employs misting plants with nutrient-infused water, coupled with full-spectrum light bulbs, that allows for thriving growth indoors, even in the midst of Minnesota winters. 

The crowdfunded business has a mission to transform the local economies where it builds its vertical aeroponic farms.

To illustrate how it works locally for the Tower, Minnesota-based, privately owned business: About a billion dollars worth of food consumed in the Western Lake Superior region is trucked in annually. Meanwhile, only about a million dollars is actually produced in the area. 

“We can keep our hard-earned dollars right here to spur the local economy on the Iron Range,” explains the Harvest Nation site. 

There are a myriad other benefits of this system as well. Harvest Nation ensures quality of food. “Our produce choices are grown from heirloom seeds, meaning they are beyond organic: they’re the direct offspring of unaltered plants.” 

Harvest Nation serves social good: “…We deserve local control of our food system. For us, this is the means of bringing power to our community to promote the health and well being for friends and family.”

And the company benefits the environment: Locally sourced food alleviates the need for trucked-in food and thus can reduce gasoline consumption and air pollution. 

Denise Pieratos, the primary founder and CEO of Harvest Nation, was recently recognized as one of the most influential persons of the year by Twin Cities Business Magazine

Her co-founders are her daughters Dani Pieratos and Nicole (Nikki) Love, who serve as president sales and marketing, and as treasurer, respectively, and her sister Tracey Dagen, who leads as Chief Operating Officer and point person for crop production. 

Denise Pieratos and her three Bois Forte Band of Chippewa member co-founders were motivated to start Harvest Nation by Anishinaabe teachings that emphasized food as sacred medicine. 

In April 2020, Harvest Nation announced its fundraiser for between $900,000 to $1.5 million+ for a three year demonstration pilot farm — necessary for research and development to capture the full potential of what is possible with soil-less farming.

Now Harvest Nation is building an indoor aeroponic farming system half a mile down in the Soudan Underground Mine — that’s on the south shore of Lake Vermilion in Minnesota, reported Twin Cities Business (TCB). 

Here’s how the business model works: “It is land- and water-efficient, will grow over 40 chemical-free fruits and vegetables year-round, and will sell a weekly subscription box using a CSA farm model in Nett Lake, Lake Vermilion, and neighboring Iron Range towns. Plans include expanding the model for B2B sales to public institutions and restaurants, as well as other Native communities facing similar deficiencies, such as the Inupiat Tribe in Alaska,” TCB reported. 

Launching Harvest Nation was a natural segue for Denise Pieratos, who graduated from MIT and counts 15 years of professional architecture experience, including working as an architect in New York City. While there, she entered the History Channel’s “Cities of the Future” competition and made it to the finals in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Her project explored how local food production and aeroponics farming could re-structure and empower sustainable communities. Ultimately, she realized her vision was viable as a business. “Denise is confident Harvest Nation will become a model to emulate around the world for healthy and sustainable food production,” states her bio on the Harvest Nation website, “even in the most seemingly impossible places, and able to change lives in large and profound ways.” 

Learn more about Harvest Nation’s mission to change the future of farm-to-table food at harvestnationinc.com

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