Precision Foodservice a la Microsoft

Microsoft, don't know if you ever heard of them, but they do something with chips, servers, and bites, so obviously in the foodservice industry.

Anyways, they have a main campus in Redmond Washington, where they've been able to achieve TRUE Platinum with a 99.5% Diversion Rate. One area of focus is food waste. Microsoft has over 71 cafes and restaurants within the Redman Campus which serve as venues to test tech to achieve better performance. But it's not just the "waste" aspect, they've gone upstream and have begun to grow food where it's used. This makes for increased precision in producing food with a lower carbon footprint, optimum nutrition, and when tied into building occupant analytics growing can be tailored to speed up or slow down based on projections.

Here are 3 videos that show how this strategy is currently playing out. The future is here. In Redmond.

Microsoft Garage Urban Farming Week 4 from Todd Rawlings on Vimeo.

Main Notes from this video:
  • Mark Freeman is Microsoft's Senior Manager of Global Dining
  • 14 turns of growing lettuce a year in a grow-tower vs twice on a farm
  • Monitor what the plant needs, feed it that, so we get the plant to achieve its peak performance
  • Robots to aid in harvest, distribution
  • Remote sensors to help with automation tasks through integration with analytics and cross-analysis of data
  • Hackathon to solve some of the issues related to sensors, alerting, collection, etc...


Mark Freeman (go here for interview) uses Microsoft software and technology to grow edible greens in buildings throughout the Redmond campus. Each year, the hydroponic towers and containers produce more than 7 1/2 tons of lettuce and a ton of microgreens that make their way into the salads and atop the flatbreads of thousands of Microsoft employees. Cameras and sensors work with the software to make sure the greens are harvested at their nutritional peak.


Microsoft Garage Urban Farming Chapter - Kick Off Meeting 5-6-2015 from Todd Rawlings on Vimeo.

Microsoft Garage Urban Farming Chapter holds it's kick-off meeting in Redmond, Washington. The co-leaders discuss their visions for the chapter group and then the video captures the sub-group meetings.

Main notes:

  • BRIX to measure embedded health of food
  • Take 1% of campus space to put tower gardens, 108,00 sq feet could potentially supply all Microsofts lettuce needs
  • How do we manage the labor involved in harvesting? Maybe robots.
  • Craig Tarrant, head of Culinary at Redmond, talks about the "ingredient revolution"
  • Farmers till up 40% of what they grow, Microsoft now has a program called misfit produce
  • Transparency is key, carbon footprint reduction, flavor profiles - main goals
  • Jessica Schilke, Urban Farming Specialist, talks about 100% organic microgreens
  • 22 types of microgreens, considering another 20
  • Automated systems make it easy.
  • Micro plants aid in density
  • Rockwool has a high embedded energy content, looking for alternatives 

The tech has trickled into product offerings. The company Growing Underground, is using Microsoft tech to do just that, in a bunker!