San Francisco, California-based Plenty, one of the flavor-first vertical farming companies, said two senior executives – Dr. Michael Schwieterman and Brian Pedersen – were both recognized in the Fruit + Vegetable 40 under 40 Awards by Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News. The list is reserved exclusively for outstanding young industry professionals who demonstrate exceptional commitment to making their mark in the industry through innovation and leadership.
The entire class of 2021 winners can be viewed here.
Schwieterman, director of new crops and flavor, oversees a team that explores potential crops for vertical farms and their flavor profile. Schwieterman’s career has focused on optimizing flavor based on how genetic diversity and environmental factors alter the quality and perception of fruits and vegetables.
His agricultural ties go back generations, including his childhood spent on a family farm in Ohio. Before his work at Plenty, Schwieterman established the Chemistry Lab for Driscoll’s to drive trait discovery and cultivar development in all berries.
Schwieterman earned his doctorate in plant molecular and cellular biology from the University of Florida, where he studied flower development in petunia and fruit chemistry for strawberry breeding. During his postdoctoral appointment, he bridged metabolomics and LEDs to identify the effects of wavelength on product quality in fruits and herbs.
Pedersen is the grow systems lead at Plenty. In this role, he works to optimize Plenty’s growing environment, ensuring plants are grown and harvested at peak flavor and nutrition. Originally from St. Croix, an island that imports 96 percent of its food, Plenty’s mission is especially important to Pedersen. He is passionate about championing food security in underserved communities and food deserts worldwide.
“Michael and Brian’s selection are testament to their passion and unwavering leadership and commitment they have both brought to the fruit and vegetable industry,” said Nate Storey, co-founder and chief science officer at Plenty. “They’re both great examples of people who are constantly thinking outside the box and always planting seeds for the future both at Plenty and for the industry as a whole. We’re proud of their work and happy to see them recognized in the industry as well.”
The Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Awards honor 40 outstanding individuals who exemplify leadership, innovative thinking and commitment to the industry’s future. Honorees represent every sector, from growers and farm marketers to researchers and suppliers.