Bowery Farming, which bills itself as the largest indoor farm in the United States, is about to bring indoor urban agriculture to more cities across the U.S.
Atlanta and the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area are the latest targets for two new indoor farms that the company estimates could create more than 200 jobs in both markets, The goal is to sell locally grown produce to more than 36 million people across the two metro areas.
Indoor farming has been a buzzword for years, but as these companies grow, their ability to bring costs down for their own operations and cut costs for consumers increases. Local, indoor farms also have the benefit of reducing the costs and carbon footprint of shipping goods and services.
Beyond these benefits, the ability to grow crops in a controlled environment reduces the needs for pesticides or other contaminants.
Bowery isn't the only big company bringing farming to big cities. Plenty has massive facilities in South San Francisco and South Central Los Angeles and Oishii, a vertical farming company focused on wildly expensive strawberries (but not "Wild Strawberries") is working out of New Jersey. Iron Ox is growing indoor greens, herbs and berries in Texas, and BrightFarms is taking a different spin on things by building greenhouses for greens in urban areas.
All told, these companies have raised $1.35 billion to bring the farm even closer to tables around the country.
There're even companies now that bring the goodness of growing leafy greens into the home. Companies like Babylon, LettuceGrow, and Gardyn have vertical farming systems for the home where folks can grow greens themselves. The Gardyn system even touts an ability to cultivate fruits like strawberries, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Banks are big investment firms are beginning to warm up to the opportunity that venture capitalists were initially backing several years ago. Bowery, for instance, just managed to land $150 million in loans from KKR, a global investment firm.
"We're thrilled to announce our expansion beyond the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions," said Irving Fain, CEO and Founder of Bowery Farming, in a statement. "KKR's support is a testament to the proven success of our business model and a strong vote of confidence in our technology leadership and ability to address critical challenges in the current agricultural system. There is enormous economic opportunity that comes with supporting our mission to democratize access to local, pesticide-free Protected Produce, and now we are ready to continue our growth more rapidly."