- New York-based indoor farming group Bowery Farming just closed its a $90 million funding round, according to AgFunder News. The funding round was led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), which had previously funded the startup, as well as famed restaurateur David Barber’s Almanac Investments and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
- This Series B funding brings the indoor farm’s total funding to $117.5 million since closing a $20 million Series A deal.
- Bowery Farming currently sells leafy green products, arugula, butterhead lettuce, romaine, bok choy, basil, and lettuce mixes to Whole Foods, Foragers and Sweetgreens in the New York area. With this influx in funding, the startup hopes to expand its farms and increase production.
Bowery Farming’s $90 million investment round marks yet another vote of confidence for vertical farming — growing crops in towers without soil or pesticides. This technology makes it possible to raise locally grown vegetables anywhere, and dramatically cuts back on water use and transportation costs.
This opportunity to deliver fresh produce to the supply chain while limiting transit time, distance and cost hurdles has drawn increasing investments. This year, Brooklyn, New York-based Gotham Greens announced it raised $29 million in a Series C financing round led by existing investors. BrightFarms, the high-tech greenhouse operator that supplies produce to a range of retailers, raised $55 million in Series D financing in a round led by Cox Enterprises.
Bowery Farming leaped ahead of the pack, raising almost twice as much funding in one round, thanks to its proprietary software system called BoweryOS. According to AgFunder News, “the system uses computer vision and robotic automation technology, guided by machine learning algorithms to monitor its crops and all the variables that drive their growth throughout the day.” At the same time, this futuristic software has also helped the company claim that it is the most technologically advanced vertical farm in the world.
However, all of this technology has a cost. Labor and electricity overheads have shown that this farming method is not as cost-effective as it could be. Matt Barnard, the CEO of San Francisco indoor farm Plenty, told AP that less expensive power is needed to make indoor farms sustainable.
Still, the need for more cost-efficient technology has not dampened investor enthusiasm. Bowery’s software-savvy platform for cultivation has allowed the company to get growing down to a science — literally. From light to water to indoor conditions, everything is continuously monitored and the data is used to perfect the process. The result is a replicatable system that Bowery hopes to expand across the country by 2019, increasing distribution of leafy greens and herb SKUs nationwide.
Whether Bowery is successful will depend on the expansion of vertical farms in general. However, if the farms can maintain their standing as sustainable, organic alternatives to conventional farming and get overhead costs down, there is a good chance that everyone will be seeing more locally grown vegetables from indoor climates.