PIP Indoor Tomato Farming Project

Generating Urban Food System Solutions
Generating Urban Food System Solutions

Program Contact

Dr. John Reich

Dr. Denise Tieman

University of Florida

Year Awarded  2022

Total award amount   $2,112,454

Location   Gainesville, FL

Matching Funders   AeroFarms, BASF, Fluence by OSRAM, GreenVenus, Priva

  • Urban Food Systems

Growing Flavorful Tomatoes in Controlled Environments

Controlled environment agriculture adapts and grows plants for indoor environments to grow flavorful, nutritious and resource-efficient crops. This farming system is a promising opportunity to sustain and develop our food systems despite climate change. Yet, knowledge gaps are hindering this potential. Scientists have only limited knowledge of the conditions popular crops need to thrive indoors, as well as the genetic advantages that can smooth a crop’s transition to indoor farming, knowledge that will help make indoor production economically viable for growers.

The current market for crops grown indoors is small, and historically, major seed companies have been hesitant to invest in genetic enhancement or specialized technology that would allow indoor cultivation. While this is changing, the result of this legacy is a gap in indoor production research and techniques. The Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) consortium seeks to build knowledge of controlled environment agriculture by investing in research to advance indoor crops with consumer-desired traits, such as flavor.

With this PIP grant, researchers at the University of Florida are defining and enhancing the physical and genetic traits in tomatoes that affect flavor and that can make them suitable for controlled environments.

Why this research is important

This research is expanding controlled environment agriculture to popular crops, while also making the crops grown indoors more desirable to consumers. Additionally, this research aims to capitalize on the advantages of vertical farming environments.

Grower benefits:

  • Producing crops on less land, often with fewer inputs, than traditional farming
  • Growing tomato varieties with traits suitable for indoor agriculture and in conditions that produce flavorful fruits
  • More quickly accessing new crop varieties that are designed for controlled environment agriculture

Research benefits:

  • Gaining new methods to accelerate the development of crop varieties, particularly crops that have been overlooked by the controlled environment industry

Environment benefits:

  • Reduced food waste
  • Reduced use of resources and inputs

Consumers benefit:

  • Year round access to flavorful, nutritious tomatoes
  • Reduced or eliminated supply chain distance
Consumers are generally dissatisfied with the taste of supermarket tomatoes. If we can deliver great tasting tomatoes year-round through indoor agriculture, consumers will consume more tomatoes and be happier and healthier as a result. Dr. Denise Tieman
Research Assistant Professor, University of Florida

Details About this Research

This research targets the traits, technology and ideal growing conditions that allow premium tomatoes to thrive in controlled environments. It is aiding the development of consistently tasty tomatoes produced through economically viable indoor production systems.

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The Latest


Our Insights highlight unique perspectives from across the food and agriculture community.

See all Insights

PIP is Pioneering Indoor Agriculture Collaborations

John Reich, Ph.D.

Scientific Program Director Bolstering Healthy Food Systems

Feedback Loops & Food Access

Gwendolyn Donley

2019-2022 FFAR Fellow


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