Nature Fresh Farms Utilizes AI from Seed to Store

AI, optimized by OpenVINO™ toolkit, with Intel® Xeon®-based Dell servers help create efficient and sustainable supply chains.

At a glance:

  • Nature Fresh Farms, a 250-acre greenhouse that operates 24/7, has become one of Canada's largest independent greenhouse produce growers.

  • Nature Fresh Farms is bringing AI to the Edge with Dell Technologies and Intel—Intel® Xeon® processors provide the computational muscle while OpenVINO™ toolkit leverages Intel Xeon processors’ built-in accelerators for efficient AI model inference to process more than 20 TB of data a year with Dell servers.




Food retailers have a fresh food problem: customers want more of it, but farmers face a host of challenges, from open-field farming affected by climate change to inefficient watering and fertilizer application that increases operational costs. 

The result is over $1 trillion worth of perishable food going directly from farms to landfills every year—equal to 130 billion meals, and food waste is expected to double by 2050.

To meet this growing problem, Intel and Dell Technologies are working with Nature Fresh Farms to develop more sustainable and effective fresh food solutions for every stage of the supply chain.

Solution Overview: 

Nature Fresh Farms needed an innovative edge solution with the latest technology and tools to reimagine the food supply chain from the ground up—a solution that had the capacity to support the farm’s zero-downtime requirements at the edge.

AI-enabled, edge farming solutions powered by Intel® Xeon® processors and OpenVINO™ toolkit track and manage everything from the farm’s climate and humidity levels to the trucks produce is shipped on. These solutions optimize the path from seed to supermarket shelf, leading to better food for people and less waste in the food supply chain.

The farm’s AI, optimized by OpenVINO toolkit, helps enhance growing conditions for the plants, control irrigation, and reduce cost. The AI system continues along the supply chain to help Nature Fresh Farms know what they are going to produce, and ensure food is delivered at the peak of freshness. 

Combining the power of OpenVINO toolkit and Intel Xeon processor-based servers has helped reduce the amount of compute time required to capture, process, and analyze data in the greenhouse from 2 to 3 hours to 30 minutes.1 Nature Fresh Farms can now optimize factors including heating, cooling, humidity, and irrigation 5x more often per day, improving growing results.

Growing More at the Edge 

Contrary to the misconception that AI requires cloud connectivity or GPUs, Nature Fresh Farms successfully deploys edge computing with Intel Xeon CPUs across hundreds of acres of greenhouses. These CPUs handle edge computing tasks, ensuring efficient and real-time decision-making within the greenhouses.

“Intel allows our growers to analyze data at the edge. So, we not only know what we're going to produce next week, we can know what we're going to produce weeks to come. Managing the data—our growers become proactive growers instead of reactive growers.” —Keith Bradley, VP Information Technology, Nature Fresh Farms

From seed to store, every plant produces 12 MB of data over the course of its life cycle—and the farm integrates 23 TB of data every year across hundreds of thousands of sensors on its two facilities. Processing this data in real time, Intel Xeon technology allows growers to be more informed with more precise readings from every plant. This precision growing results in up to 10x more yield per acre.1

Delivering Faster and Smarter

Predictive analytics and AI modeling applied to precision farming can turn the unpredictable process of growing produce into a tasty exercise in precision. Intel Xeon processors provide the computational muscle while OpenVINO toolkit leverages Intel Xeon processors’ built-in accelerators for efficient AI model inference. The result is faster and smarter insights across a greenhouse’s operations.

“Predictive analytics—AI is going to be a big foundation in that. OpenVINO helps us make inferences and decisions, helps us do day-to-day functions beyond what we could have imagined.” —Keith Bradley, VP Information Technology, Nature Fresh Farms

During growing season, OpenVINO toolkit controls irrigation and tracks water reclamation, ensuring the minimal amount of water is used to get the maximum benefit—approximately 90% more efficient than open-field farming.1

When it’s time to harvest, Nature Fresh Farms uses Intel-powered technology to analyze produce color and size. It’s able to pre-sort produce and improve packing time by 5x, from 45 to 8 seconds.1

For the last leg of the journey, ensuring produce doesn’t spoil as it travels from the farm to the store is critical. Typically grown tomatoes take anywhere from 4-10 days to reach retailers’ shelves. With Nature Fresh Farms’ AI-enabled sorting system, the process is many times faster, so tomatoes hit supermarket shelves within 24-48 hours of being packaged.1

Intel-optimized AI solutions monitor each piece of produce across the full journey from seed to shelf, ensuring product traceability. If ever there is an issue detected with their produce, Nature Fresh Farms can quickly identify the source without having to lock down the entire farm or recall entire shipments of produce. 

Results: Solving the Food Supply Chain

Intel is bringing AI everywhere, helping Nature Fresh Farms reimagine the food supply chain from the ground up. With Intel AI-powered solutions, Nature Fresh Farms can optimize business performance, achieve quality crops, and expedite produce’s journey through the food supply chain.

“It's an amazing feeling to know that we can provide fresh strawberries, fresh vegetables … across Canada and the US year-round. It's a major achievement.” —Herman Fair, Head Grower, Nature Fresh Farms

The results stretch across the farm’s entire operations:


  • Improved crop yields by 2-3% every year—leading to hundreds of thousands more pounds of produce—using up to 90% less water.1
  • Approximately 10X more yield per acre compared to traditional farming.1
  • Real-time processing of 23 TB of data every year and reduced processing time for individual plant growth insights from a day to mere minutes.1
  • 5X decrease time to package produce, from 45 seconds to 8 seconds per box.1
  • Reduced transportation time from farm to retailer shelves from 4-10 days to 24-48 hours.1