Plenty To Build 100,000sqft Urban-Vertical Farm In Seattle
Plenty made waves earlier this year when it closed a $200 million dollar funding round led by international giant SoftBank. The company also counts Eric Schmidt and Jeff Bezos among its investors through their firm’s Innovation Endeavors and Bezos Expeditions respectively. Through Softbank, and 6 other follow investors the company raised $200 million which made it the largest agriculture-tech funding round in history. It also brought the company’s total funding up to $226 million. All raised in a span a little over 15 months.
Given the pedigree of investors, it may not come as a huge surprise that the first commercial farm they will build off this venture-backed money will be housed in Kent, WA. Kent is also home to a large Amazon facility and will sell to neighboring Seattle area. The facility plans to grow 4.5 million pounds of greens annually, which is enough to feed around 183,600 Americans according to the USDA.
If all goes according to schedule the farm will start its production in spring 2018. This new farm will be twice the size of its original farm in South San Francisco. The new Seattle-based farm will grow leafy greens and herbs first, but will later expand to fruits, including strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelons. It is definitely intriguing to see watermelons on that list as its demand for sunlight, long growing period, large root mass and sprawling nature normally make it not practical for indoor vertical growing from both a labor and a cost of production standpoint.
This Seattle area based farm is the first of many the company plans to build around the world. Part of competing with traditional producers will come from automating more and more of the farming process with each farm. The company already uses robots to transplant seedlings from their starter trays into the vertical grow towers.
The more they can automate the process the more they can keep their costs down and be competitive in the marketplace. With this new farm and their sizeable investment, they will be able to iterate as they grow and make each new farm more and more efficient.
To check out the original story with quotes from Plenty CEO Matt Barnard click here.