Inside an old ginger ale factory in Millis, Freshbox Farms has 8-by-40 foot containers lined up, each connected to a water purification and air filtration system. Inside every container is a hydroponic farm growing an acre’s worth of leafy greens. But, before we can even enter one, the company’s senior vice-president of plant science and product development, Deane Falcone, and I suit up in lab coats and hair nets so we don’t bring in insects that can damage the plants.
…investors are starting to put some big bucks behind it. Indoor farming startups growing fruits and vegetables globally have raised $285 million since the start of 2017, with particularly large rounds for US-based vertical farms pushing the sector to its highest ever investment levels, according to AgFunder data.
The question is, who will win this market in the end?
No doubt you’ve seen several indoor agriculture companies that claim to be the best at growing leafy greens (lettuces, herbs, etc.) indoors. For any number of reasons, they claim to be better than their peers who are also vying for your funding dollars. But how do you tell the difference between them?
Here are seven simple metrics that will tell you if the company is worth your investment dollars.
Sitting in between a few of these models is Fresh Box Farms, a Boston-based indoor operation currently farming out of shipping containers, but soon building a facility the equivalent to 200 of those, admittedly moving on from the container model. CFO David Vosburg says that though containers were a great place to start, in the long run concentrating labor into one big operation makes more sense.
As CEO of FreshBox Farms in Millis, Mass., Sonia Lo ’84 is also interested in local food and using new technologies to create it. FreshBox has pioneered the use of high-density, high-yield, pesticide- and GMO-free vertical hydroponic farming in indoor enclosures. Hydroponics is a method of agriculture that uses nutrients in water, rather than soil, to grow plants. Lo’s company plants heirloom seeds to support biodiversity, regulates nutrients by parts per million, and refines LED lighting to match the exact spectrum of light plants need to thrive. That means she can grow more greens using less water — roughly 2,000 times less water than conventional agriculture — and faster, too.
For FreshBox Farms, an indoor farm operational since 2015 at an old factory site in Millis, Massachusetts, around 30 miles outside of Boston, the technology is important–it is, after all, what enables the greens to grow–but it’s not sacred. “We’re equipment agnostic,” Sonia Lo, the CEO of Crop One Holdings, FreshBox’s parent company, tells Fast Company. “There are people out there doing great work to perfect lights, trays, control systems, nutrient dosing systems–we focus on growing as much as possible.”
Jupiter, FL— DMG Productions, LLC is proud to announce that FreshBox Farms will be featured in an upcoming episode of Innovations with Ed Begley Jr. airing third quarter 2017 on FOX Business.
FreshBox Farms is grown locally and delivered to supermarkets around the greater Boston region. With an experienced group of scientists, engineers, and people dedicated to make sustainable growing future, FreshBox Farms cultivated produce with health, taste, and value in mind.