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  • Singapore Airlines is about to launch a new “farm-to-plane” dining program, using vegetables grown at a local farm in Newark, New Jersey, in dishes on board its flights from the New York City area.
  • AeroFarms, the company supplying the greens, is a high-tech “vertical farm,” which uses a controlled climate, LED lights, and a new type of farming called aeroponics to grow crops in reclaimed urban spaces.
  • Business Insider toured the AeroFarms facility to learn more about how the process works, and how things like baby kale and watercress can go from the farm to 35,000 feet in just a few short hours. Scroll down to walkthrough this unique urban farm.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

What’s the deal with airplane food?

If Singapore Airlines has anything to say about it, that classic stand-up joke will soon be a thing of the past.

The airline made headlines in 2017 when it announced a new “farm-to-plane” dining service coming to its long-haul flights, and again this spring when it announced its first sourcing partner.

Now, the locally-sourced, fine-dining initiative is about to launch on the world’s longest flight.

After months of planning and preparation, the farm-to-plane service is kicking off next month on the airline’s flight between the New York City-area Newark airport and Singapore.

The airline will work with AeroFarms, a unique indoor vertical farming company based in Newark, New Jersey, to source leafy greens and vegetables for several of the appetizers in its business class cabin starting in October. Meals made with the local greens will eventually be expanded to other courses and other cabins — the plane operating the flight is entirely business class and premium economy.

While the novelty of the “farm-to-table” concept in the sky, coupled with the fresh taste of the meals has an obvious appeal, the airline also touts the sustainability of both sourcing ingredients locally, and supporting eco-efficient businesses like AeroFarms with its business. It could be easy to dismiss that — the airline, after all, is an airline, and relies on fossil fuels to fly emission-generating planes around the world — but there’s a twofold benefit that sourcing crops from a company like AeroFarms can provide.

Normally, while catering in the winter, “the greens for our flights from Newark had to be flown in from 3,000 miles away, from California, Mexico, or Florida,” said James Boyd, Singapore’s head of US communications. “This allows us to instead source our greens from less than five miles away, cutting down on shipping waste.”

Additionally, Singapore is looking to expand the farm-to-plane initiative with similar sustainable urban farms around the world, giving a boost to growing eco-friendly businesses — for instance, AeroFarms, which said it plans to add more facilities, is a certified B-Corp, a designation given to businesses that meet certain environmental and ethical standards.

Business Insider recently toured the AeroFarms facility at Newark to see how everything works. Take a look below for our walkthrough of the facility, and the process of getting the greens from the farm to the skies.

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Tags: AeroFarms, Business Insider, Indoor Vertical Farming, Singapore Airlines

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