LOCKHART, Texas - A new robotic growing facility is expected to bring over 100 jobs to the city of Lockhart.
Iron Ox, a California-based company that specialized in robotics and AI-enabled farming with a mission to solve food insecurity, has begun construction on a 535,000 square-foot indoor hydroponic farm in the city.
Once completed, the farm, which sits on 25 acres of agricultural land, will significantly increase Iron Ox’s growing capacity for fresh, clean, and healthy herbs, leafy greens, berries, and vine crops, says the company. The state-of-the-art indoor facility will be fully dedicated to growing techniques harnessing the power of robotics and intelligence, enabling Iron Ox to grow sustainable, local produce to serve the Texas community.
Iron Ox, a California-based company that specialized in robotics and AI-enabled farming with a mission to solve food insecurity, has begun construction on a 535,000-square-foot indoor hydroponic farm in the city. (City of Lockhart)
The company says that Lockhart is an ideal location for greenhouse agriculture given its ample sunlight, central location near many cities, and it’s proximity to several great universities.
The indoor farm is expected to cost over $10 million to develop, says Iron Ox, with 275,000 square feet of the project anticipated to be completed by the end of this year and 260,000 square feet of the project anticipated to complete by the beginning of 2022. In total, the project will create over 100 jobs.
"The addition of Iron Ox to the Lockhart business community represents synergy between our city’s storied history in agriculture and our growing technology sector," said Lockhart Mayor Lew White in a release. "The food and beverage processing industry is one of four business sectors Lockhart has targeted in its 5-year economic growth plan. Our city’s unique advantages align perfectly with the needs of companies like Iron Ox."
Lockhart Mayor Lew White (left) and Iron Ox co-founder and CEO Brandon Alexander stand next to a concept drawing of the new Iron Ox facility being built in Lockhart. (City of Lockhart)
Iron Ox expects to complete their first harvest and to begin delivering sustainable, local produce to select chefs and retailers throughout Texas by the end of this year. It is anticipated that Lockhart’s hydroponic facility will grow thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Each crop type is cared for by Iron Ox’s expert growers and empowered by a robotic growing process ensuring year-round consistency, quality, and flavor, says the company.
"We have made it our mission to address food security by developing autonomous greenhouses that grow a variety of local and consistently delicious food for everyone", said Iron Ox CEO and co-founder Brandon Alexander. "We’re excited to begin development of our newest indoor farm here in Lockhart—our first out-of-state facility. We look forward to further developing ties to the local community and to expanding our partnerships and distribution channels throughout the state of Texas."
Iron Ox co-founder and CEO Brandon Alexander addresses people at the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Iron Ox facility in Lockhart. (City of Lockhart)
Focused on sustainable, scalable food production for a changing climate and an ever-growing population, the Iron Ox process eases the growing pressure of food waste and labor scarcity by providing a stable supply of fresh, nutritious food for local communities, says the company.
Iron Ox says it designed its growing system around the sun, an approach that uses less energy than other modern forms of farming. Their hydroponic growing system uses 90% less water over traditional farming while growing 30 times the amount of crops per acre of land, allowing Iron Ox to deliver on its mission to increase access to premium produce for everyone.
Iron Ox currently operates two hydroponic farms located in Gilroy and San Carlos, California.