Sustainable Food Funding News: Bright Farms Raises $4.3M

BrightFarms, Inc. (formerly BrightFarms LLC) announced the completion of a $4.3 million Series A equity financing round. The round was led by NGEN Partners and included investments from Emil Capital Partners and BrightFarms founder Ted Caplow.

BrightFarms finances, builds and operates hydroponic greenhouse farms at supermarkets, eliminating time, distance and cost from the produce supply chain. The BrightFarms model provides supermarkets with produce that is safer and more environmentally sustainable. Purchasing BrightFarms produce may enable supermarkets to improve their profits while improving the planet.

BrightFarms follows a trend of building urban rooftop hydroponic farms started in NYC by Gotham Greens and in Boston by Sky Vegetables.  Gotham Greens is now supplying salad greens to local stores after building a 10,000-square-foot greenhouse that cost approximately $1.4 million.  And, for the record, Eli Zabar’s Vinegar Factory Greenhouse, has been growing vegetables since 1995 and heats his rooftop greenhouse with waste heat from the store’s bakery.

According to Ted Caplow: “Growing all the fresh vegetables that New York consumes would require only 1.4% of the city’s surface area.” Rooftop hydroponics is an environmentally sustainable strategy for urban food production that reduces our environmental footprint, cuts transportation costs, enhances food security / safety, conserves water, protects rivers, improves health, reduces waste, cools buildings, and combats global warming. For example, hydroponics uses ten to twenty times less land and ten times less water than conventional agriculture, while eliminating chemical pesticides, fertilizer runoff, and carbon emissions from farm machinery and long distance transport.

Rooftop Farms can improve building  economics.  Integrating a farm into a building offers all of the building performance benefits of a more conventional green roof, and results in a lower combined energy bill than if the components were separate.

The proceeds of the financing will allow BrightFarms to respond to recently increasing demand from the supermarket industry to construct commercial greenhouses on site at supermarkets. In addition, BrightFarms will further invest in its capacity to provide its clients with enhanced customer service.

“We are thrilled to be investors in BrightFarms” said Peter Grubstein, Managing Director of NGEN Partners. “The company will lower the costs of agriculture, transportation and water: the three major cost components of food production. They will disintermediate the supply chain and provide healthier and tastier food for the consumer.”

Christian Haub, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Tengelmann Group and Chairman of Emil Capital Partners, added “I am very excited for Emil Capital Partners to invest in BrightFarms, as we believe in the tremendous commercial potential of the company. BrightFarms’ solution taps into increasing consumer demand for locally grown foods. The BrightFarms model also offers food retailers an attractive source of produce at competitive terms.”

BrightFarms founder and Chairman, Ted Caplow, said “I am delighted to join my partners in commercially deploying our vision of building-integrated agriculture. The upcoming BrightFarms projects at supermarkets build upon our prior rooftop greenhouses, extending the same principles that guided my original design for the Science Barge: local food production that is both high yield and ecologically sustainable.”

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