Bowery Farming is known for its sleeky packaged lettuce and mixed greens sell at stores such as Whole Foods. The company has raised a $300 million Series C round as demand for sustainable produce surges. It represents the largest private fundraising round for an indoor farming company ever. Bowery’s value approximates $2.3 billion as a result of the new funding.
As the largest vertical farming company in the United States, Bowery Farming maintains a network of smart indoor farms. Bowery’s innovative vertical farming system stacks crops vertically to maximize space. The company uses industrial spaces right outside of cities to grow produce indoors. This enables Bowery to deliver locally grown produce, reducing waste and miles traveled.
Based in New York, Bowery Farming was founded in 2015 with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability. Every seed used is pollutant and pesticide free. Unlike outdoor farming, Bowery’s modern indoor farming operations protect from unreliable weather and crops can grow year-round. The company relies on efficient use of vertical space. A farm yields 100 times more produce in the same amount of space.
Bowery Farming OS
Artificial intelligence is a key component to BoweryOS, the company’s proprietary farm operating system. A facility grows thousands of crops at the same time. Each one has its own set of optimal temperature points and environmental conditions. Customization is important to yield.
This is where AI plays a key role. An extensive network of cameras and sensors monitors the crops. Data points are fed into machine-learning algorithms in real time. This enables BoweryOS to track if an arugula plant is not getting enough water. Or perhaps a cilantro crop is not getting enough light.
Katie Seawell, the Chief Commercial Officer of Bowery Farming, describes the advantages of being able to fine tune variables to optimize growth conditions. “What stresses the plant out is exposing it to more intensity and longer duration of light, so we are able to optimize that recipe because we control every aspect or input into the plant’s growing,” states Seawell.
Data Drives the Growing
BoweryOS analyzes the historical data it has collected to better optimize growing conditions for different types of crops going forward. Data accumulates from thousands of growth cycle on metrics such as airflow, nutrients, light intensity, CO2 levels, humidity, and irrigation schedules. The use of artificial intelligence also helps Bowery conserve resources and reduce energy consumption.
Irving Fain, the founder and CEO of Bowery Farming, remarked: “At Bowery, we’re reinventing a new supply chain that’s simpler, safer, more sustainable and ultimately provides vibrantly flavorful produce unlike what’s available today.” Prior to founding Bowery Farming in 2015, Fain was a serial entrepreneur that built a number of other successful startups. He started his career at Citi in the private equity group.
Series C Round Just Completed
Including the $300 million raised from the Series C round, Bowery Farming has now raised a total of $472 million from private fundraising. Since 2020, the company has experienced more than 750% retail growth. Bowery’s packaged produce is carried in over 850 stores. Its packaged produce serves a variety of specialty grocery stores and e-commerce platforms such as Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, and Walmart. Bowery recently announced a new partnership with Albertsons, which owns Safeway.
The Series C round was led by Fidelity Management & Research Company. A number of venture capital and investments firms participated in the round including GV (formerly Google Ventures), General Catalyst, GGV Capital, and Temasek. Support also came from celebrity investors such as Natalie Portman and Justin Timberlake, both advocates of plant-based eating.
“Bowery’s approach to indoor farming represents a meaningful disruption to the traditional produce supply chain, and its systems-based approach to engineering and farm design is unparalleled”, states Andy Wheeler, a general partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures).
Bowery intends to used its newly raised funds to accelerate innovation, hire more employees, support research and development, and build more indoor farming operations. In January 2021, Bowery brought Injong Rhee as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Rhee was formerly a Vice President at Google and CTO of Samsung.
Bowery Farming in Pennsylvania
An industrial site in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is currently being converted into what will be Bowery’s largest vertical farming site to date. Bowery is particularly focused on expanding its network in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The company is also opening Farm X, a high-tech hub for research and development in Kearny, New Jersey. Farm X will feature an in-house breeding program and research lab. Through its commitment to research and development efforts, Bowery hopes to speed up commercial timelines for growing crops.
The modern farming concept that Bowery has pioneered has the potential to revolutionize the future of agriculture. As weather conditions become more uncertain in the future, indoor farming will play an important role for its reliability.