ORLANDO, Fla. — During the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have had to think of different ways to make money to stay open.

  • Kalera saves business by making deal with Publix
  • The indoor farming company produces hydroponic lettuce
  • Partnership saved workers from being furloughed

At the beginning of the year, Kalera, which uses indoor vertical farming of hydroponic produce, planted its seed and was hoping to see their lettuce and business grow.

“We perfected mother nature indoors by using science and technology with farming,” Kalera CEO Daniel Malechuk said from the company’s Orlando farm.

Unfortunately, no one anticipated a pandemic causing businesses everywhere to adjust and Malechuk’s head to spin.

“Right at the cusp of harvesting tens of thousands of heads of lettuce that were all slated to go to all of your favorite restaurants, the Amway Center with the Orlando Magic, to the resorts the cruise lines, everything was slated to go — and then overnight everything closed down,” Malechuk said.

With 80 percent of his orders now on hold and having to potentially furlough 50 Central Florida workers, Daniel sent an e-mail to one of Publix Grocery store’s purchasers with the subject, “Humble Plea.”

In the email Daniel said, “… it is with full humility that I write this e-mail asking you and Publix for a small miracle for Kalera.”

He outlined how important an order from Publix would be for his employees and company.

His email also said, “I know this e-mail is a long shot, but I’m failing my employees if I don’t send it.”

The next day Kalera and Publix were able to wrap up a deal for over 160 stores.

“As a result of Publix being generous and the opportunity move into their stores, I did not have to furlough and employees, which was the answer to my prayer,” Malechuk said with a smile.

It was a prayer that also answered what to do with a whole lot of product inside a raspberry tinted farmhouse, which helps plants grow while achieving energy consumption efficiency.

Inside the 20,000 square foot facility KALERA produces 6 million heads of lettuce a year, which thanks to one final plea in an email, can be purchased in a produce isle near you. ​

Ninety-five percent of all lettuce in the United States is grown in California and Arizona. Not only is Kalera able to grow their lettuce locally, they also help to eliminate a large carbon footprint created by trucks driving lettuce from the west coast over 2,800 miles across the country.

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