I met Dr. Kozai at his office located at the Plant Factory Association on a cold afternoon in early February. The term Plant Factory was coined by Japan and refers to any indoor plant-growing system. “Natural Lighting Plant Factories” are greenhouses, “Artificial Lighting Plant Factories” are what we refer to in the U.S. as Indoor Farming, or Controlled Environmental Agriculture.
Despite running this consortium (consisting of research institutions, government labs and 100’s of companies), he took the time to give me a tour. He even allowed me to take pictures; including the selfie above in one of their grow rooms, his picture in front of an insulated dome building, and the inner workings of their research facility clean-rooms.
The vision of Plant Factories has been around for awhile, but it was all on display, and in working order, here at Chiba University. As populations increase, these indoor agricultural systems automatically produce, harvest, and provide fresh, healthy produce for the masses. The plants also provide aesthetic and health benefits when displayed in the living room, building lobby, or at schools.
Dr. Kozai has spoken on behalf of the Plant Factory Association at many conferences. He’s also published papers and reports, such as these:
As I walked back to the train that night, I was filled with a sense of urgency and purpose. Dr. Kozai validated what had been in the back of my mind for several years. He agreed that my Chemical Engineering, Plant Biology, and Japanese language experiences made me well suited for a career in Plant Factories.
Thank you Dr. Kozai for allowing me to share with the world all the amazing work you and your Plant Factory Association are doing. You are an inspiration to me and many others. It sounds grandiose, but to me at least, it feels like a revolution.