Vertical farming company Kalera today announced its plans to open a commercial growing facility in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is the eighth farm that is either open or in the works for Orlando, Florida-based Kalera.
For a long time, Kalera primarily served the hospitality industry in Orlando with its HyCube vertical farming facility. The company broke ground on another and bigger location in that city in 2019. At the time, the company planned to focus mainly on the Southeastern region of the U.S.
The pandemic, of course, changed all that. With most restaurants shut down or fulfilling lower order volumes, Kalera pivoted to retail via a partnership with grocery store chain Publix in 2020. The company also started expanding beyond the Southeast U.S. and is now, in terms of geographical footprint, one of the fastest-growing commercial vertical farming companies.
Kalera’s controlled environment farms use a mix of hydroponics, sensors, LEDs, and some automation to grow a variety of leafy greens. Besides the two facilities in Orlando, the company also operates a farm in Atlanta, which just opened. Facilities in Houston, Denver, Columbus (Ohio), Seattle, and Hawaii are currently under construction. The company says that once all of these farms plus the Minnesota facility are open, Kalera will have a total projected yield of “tens of millions of heads of lettuce per year, or the equivalent of over 1,000 acres of traditional field farms,” according to today’s press release.
Kalera’s announcement comes just days after a slew of other new developments in the controlled environment agriculture space. Last week alone, Babylon Microfarms and Grönska both announced funding rounds and Plenty expanded into new grocery retailers in California. Prior to that GoodLeaf Farms announced plans to expand across Canada and InFarm unveiled its modular commercial-scale farms.
For its part, Kalera also recently acquired Vindara, a company that develops seeds specifically bred for indoor farming environments.