CINCINNATI (AP) — 80 Acres Farms, a leader in the rapidly growing indoor vertical farming industry, announced it has received a significant investment from Virgo Investment Group, a San Francisco Bay Area based private equity firm that invests in companies transforming and disrupting high-potential industries. Terms of the financing were not disclosed.
80 Acres Farms provides customers with a wide variety of locally grown, just-picked leafy greens, microgreens, and vine crops, including the world’s only tomatoes and cucumbers grown completely indoors using just LED lighting. The company has developed its own artificial intelligence-powered growing system, sophisticated data monitoring, and automation technologies to deliver high quality and nutritious products at an affordable price. By locating its indoor farms close to customers, 80 Acres Farms is able to eliminate the costs, time and environmental impact of cross-country transportation, providing customers with a fresher, longer lasting product while drastically reducing food waste. 80 Acres distributes to major national grocers, local retailers, restaurants, and food service companies from its facilities in Ohio, Arkansas, North Carolina and Alabama.
“Virgo Investment Group joins our existing notable and experienced food industry investors in supporting the Company to rapidly commercialize the indoor vertical farming technology we have developed over the past three years,” said Mike Zelkind, co-founder and chief executive officer of 80 Acres Farms. “We are optimizing every aspect of our production processes and driving down costs, which is crucial to scaling an indoor farming business like ours.”
“We are excited to partner with highly experienced food industry leaders Mike Zelkind and Tisha Livingston to bring great tasting, freshly picked produce to local markets year round,” said Eli Aheto, partner of Virgo Investment Group. “80 Acres Farms has created a unique and automated growing process and has built great relationships with its retail customers. We want to help accelerate the company’s growth in this multi-billion-dollar market. The 80 Acres investment is an expression of Virgo’s longstanding focus on investing in energy efficiency opportunities driven by reduced equipment costs. Virgo has completed investments in utility-scale wind, community solar, electric vehicle charging and now an LED lighting driven business.”
The Virgo investment will enable 80 Acres Farms to complete the previously announced facility in Hamilton, Ohio, which will be the first fully automated indoor farm in North America. The first phase of the Hamilton project under construction is expected to be operational in early 2019. It will be automated from seeding to growing to harvesting for the highest quality and food safety standards. The Hamilton facility will feature handling robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and around-the-clock monitoring sensors and control systems to optimize every aspect of growing produce indoors. The facility will allow 80 Acres Farms to begin to service the substantial and growing demand for fresh, locally grown produce year-round from both retailers and restaurants.
“Over the past three years we have provided our customers with fresh, flavorful and nutritious produce grown locally in our facilities with no pesticides and highly efficient usage of water and nutrients,” Zelkind said. “We are rapidly increasing yields for our produce, while advancing each generation of our grow zone designs to lower capital costs, production costs and reduce the use of natural resources. Our facilities represent the realization of the next generation of farming. Our vision is to prove that indoor farming can be fully-automated, commercially scalable, higher-yielding, and profitable.”
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