To find the next frontier of technological innovation, try looking in your salad bowl.
SALINAS, Calif.—On the ground floor of a gleaming new building in downtown Salinas, the Central Coast city’s famous agricultural bounty has been repackaged.
To one side of a lobby with sleek gray floors and a statue of a bald eagle mid-flight, a boutique that sells romaine-hued table linens implores shoppers to “lettuce eat local.” A white enamel colander adorned with the region’s famous strawberries sells for $66.
“The game is certainly changing,” says Dennis Donohue, former mayor of Salinas and head of the Western Growers Association’s 2-yearold downtown innovation center. He positions the co-working and meeting space as a “lightning rod” to attract interesting agtech ventures, which the grower’s association can then offer up to member farmers.
It’s here, in a modern open office accented by dandelion-yellow desk dividers and light grain wood accents, that 52 startups from the Central Coast, San Jose, San Francisco and as far as Israel and New Zealand are also formulating an answer to a question that Donohue has long asked: “Wouldn’t it be interesting to connect the Silicon Valley to the Salinas Valley?”