Bethesda, Maryland-based indoor farming company Gardyn announced today it is raising a $10 million Series A round led by JAB Holding Company. According to a press release sent to The Spoon, the non-controlling investment, when finalized, will bring Gardyn’s total funding to date to $15 million.
The new funds will allow Gardyn to accelerate the North American expansion of its consumer-grade vertical farm to meet what the company calls “the incredible demand” it is currently seeing for its product.
Gardyn’s at-home vertical farming system is geared towards consumers interested in growing their own produce who have neither space nor green thumb to do it the traditional way. The farm itself is a compact vertical tower that can grow up to 30 plants at once and easily fits inside a small apartment. Its accompanying software platform, dubbed Kelby, automates the majority of the grow process, including circulating the water and nutrients, monitoring plant growth, and notifying users, via a smartphone app. when it’s time to add water to the console or harvest the plants.
Currently, the device can grow leafy greens, herbs, some flowers, cherry tomatoes, and jalapeños. Customers have the option to also use their own seeds.
Gardyn is one of several companies developing indoor farms for the consumer home, a category that grew significantly in 2020. Gardyn itself said it experienced “double-digit month-over-month growth throughout 2020.” Others, including AeroGrow and Click & Grow, also reported surges in interest over the last year. Aspara, too, reported a spike in sales in Hong Kong, where the company is based. Aspara has since launched in the U.S. market.
“I am absolutely convinced we are going to see in the coming two years a total disruption in the way we grow things,” Gardyn’s founder and CEO FX Rouxel told me late last year. More than ever, there is greater demand from consumers for local foods with traceable origins and sans pesticides. The pandemic ushered in record levels of consumers buying produce directly from farmers; putting a farm in your house is the obvious next step.
For some, that is. Food sovereignty in the home is currently only possible for those that can afford it. In other words, farming systems for the home are still fairly expensive, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand depending on the company and model.
When we spoke, Rouxel was keenly aware of this point, and that the $799 price tag for Gardyn’s the base model is still too high for many. “We don’t want this to be only for well-off people,” he told me. “It’s important that we find ways that anyone can afford this.”
The hope is that some of this new funding and expansion can go towards making the grow-at-home movement possible for a wider swath of the population.