Newark, N.J.-based vertical farming company AeroFarms will open its largest indoor farm to date as it expands into the Midwest with a 150,000-square-foot facility near St. Louis.
In a news release, AeroFarms—which will begin trading on the Nasdaq (ticker symbol ARFM) after the close of a SPAC deal with Spring Valley Acquisition Corp.—said a St. Louis agriculture coalition had selected the company to build an innovative new farming facility in the region.
The new farm will give AeroFarms "rapid access to retail partners throughout the Midwest," according to the company, which counts Walmart, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Fresh, ShopRite and FreshDirect among its retail customers. AeroFarms currently operates farms in Newark and in Ithaca, N.Y.; construction is underway at a 136,000-square-foot farm in Danville, Va., that is expected to be up and running by mid-2022. AeroFarms has yet to select a specific site for the St. Louis-area farm (sites in both Missouri and Illinois are under consideration) and no construction timeline has been announced.
AeroFarms' first Midwest facility will be built in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and the St. Louis Controlled Environment Agriculture Coalition, whose stakeholders include the Greater St. Louis Inc. economic development group and St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets. The coalition solicited proposals in 2020 for a farm that would "help advance environmental and social objectives" in the St. Louis metro area and tapped AeroFarms to bring such a farm to fruition.
AeroFarms touted that the farm would generate annual yields up to 390 times greater per square food compared with traditional field farming while using up to 95% less water for production and no pesticides.
Separately last week, AeroFarms and Cargill announced a multiyear research agreement focused on improving cocoa bean yields and growing more-resilient, more-productive cocoa trees using sustainable farming practices as climate change threatens traditional growing areas and practices.
"I couldn't be more confident in our ability to execute our growth strategy and deliver on our mission to grow the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity," AeroFarms co-founder and CEO David Rosenberg said in an Aug. 16 business update on the company's website.
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