- Plenty plans to invest $300 million during the next six years to build what it describes as the largest indoor vertical farm campus in the world. The complex, to be constructed on 120 acres of land near Richmond, Virginia, would feature several large-scale vertical farms capable of producing more than 20 million pounds of strawberries, leafy greens, tomatoes and other crops per year, according to a press release.
- The first vertical farm will grow strawberries for Plenty partner Driscoll’s and have the ability to produce more than 4 million pounds annually. The first crop should be available to retailers in the Northeast in winter 2023-2024, Plenty said.
- The Plenty vertical farm campus is being planned at a time when other controlled environment agriculture (CEA) players are also announcing massive funding rounds and new facilities of their own.
Plenty and Driscoll’s first announced plans in March to build a vertical farm for growing the berry giant’s strawberries, targeting dense, urban markets in the Northeast. Today’s announcement shows Plenty’s ambitions go way beyond berries.
“Through more than a decade of investment in research and development Plenty has cracked the code on a scalable platform that makes indoor farming increasingly economical,” said Arama Kukutai, CEO of California-based Plenty, in a statement. “Channeling that into the largest vertical farm complex in the world propels us to the level indoor farming has to operate at to truly transform our food system.”
After berries, the Virginia campus would add vertical farms to grow produce such as leafy greens using Plenty’s platform. The technology is designed to perfect the flavor, texture and size of produce by tailoring nutrients, water and light to each plant’s needs. Plenty said it uses a fraction of the water while producing more than 350 times the yield per acre than conventional farms.
During the next six years, the Plenty campus will create more than 300 jobs, according to the indoor farming company.
The Plenty news adds to a week full of developments in the CEA space, with Virginia as an epicenter. On Monday, Gotham Greens announced it raised $310 million in its largest funding round to date and made its first acquisition: FresH2O Growers Inc., a Stevensburg, Virginia-based producer of leafy green salad products.
And on Tuesday, AeroFarms opened the doors on what it described as the “world’s largest aeroponic smart farm” in Danville, Virginia. The farm is capable of growing more than 3 million pounds of leafy greens annually, and supplying more than 50 million people within a day’s drive, AeroFarms said.