PRESS RELEASE: RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that AeroFarms will invest $42 million to build their largest, most sophisticated indoor vertical farm to date in the Cane Creek Centre, a joint industrial park for the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County.
Just recognized by Time Magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2019 for Food & Beverage, AeroFarms is an award-winning farming company with proprietary aeroponic growing technology, enabling year-round local commercial production with over 390-times more productivity for leafy greens on a per acre basis vs. field farming, while using up to 95% less water and no pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina for the project, that will create 92 new jobs.
“AeroFarms is a leader in agricultural innovation with farming technologies that make high-quality, local produce available to more communities,” said Governor Northam. “We are bringing capital investment and economic opportunity to rural Virginia by recruiting innovative companies like AeroFarms. I thank the company for choosing Virginia for this important venture and commend Danville-Pittsylvania County for helping to secure this project.”
With global headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, AeroFarms is a Certified B Corporation on a mission to grow the best plants possible for the better of humanity. Hiring locally and creating year-round employment, AeroFarms is able to disrupt traditional supply chains to nourish its communities with locally-grown, sustainably-sourced, pesticide-free produce that delivers peak nutrition and flavor, all year round. Proud to be named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company two years in a row, AeroFarms has grown over 800 different varieties by creating the perfect conditions for healthy plants to thrive, taking agriculture to a new level of precision and productivity with minimal environmental impact and virtually zero risk. AeroFarms indoor vertical farms use specialized growing algorithms leveraging custom LED lights and precision plant nutrition, calibrated to the needs of each plant, to produce baby leafy greens and microgreens that can be grown in up to a third of the time that it takes out in the field by giving the plants exactly what they need when they need it.
“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry, and the Commonwealth continues to be on the forefront of agricultural advancements,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I look forward to working with AeroFarms as they expand the use of agriculture technology to strengthen Virginia’s food system and provide increased access to healthy foods.”
“AeroFarms has an important objective to ensure our growing population has year-round access to healthy food, and we are proud to support its first Virginia operation in Danville-Pittsylvania County,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The company’s decision to establish a vertically integrated facility in the Commonwealth is a strong testament to the advantages of our location and transportation and logistics infrastructure, which attract industry-leading companies from around the world seeking expansion into new markets. We welcome AeroFarms to Virginia and look forward to our future corporate partnership.”
“We are excited to expand to Virginia, an incredible state with a strong farming tradition, and we have been honored by the amazing reception at all levels,” commented David Rosenberg, Co Founder & CEO of AeroFarms. “We want to thank everyone for helping bring our 10th farm to life to create new jobs and increase access to healthier foods with better flavor that top chefs like native Virginian David Chang have embraced. With the property developer RealtyLink, we are building out the largest, most advanced indoor vertical farm of its kind with our next generation of growing technology. Locating in the Danville area also specifically highlights how our innovative indoor growing approach works in both rural and urban environments. At 150,000 square feet, our new farm more than doubles the size of our last major commercial farm in New Jersey that will help us meet the strong consumer demand for safely grown produce that delivers peak flavor always. We are also excited about the future collaboration opportunities with The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) to build on our Strategic Partnership work with Fortune 100 companies to solve broader ag-related supply chain issues.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Pittsylvania County, the City of Danville, and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $200,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund, as well as a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, to assist Danville-Pittsylvania County with the project.
The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission has approved a grant for $190,000 from the Tobacco Regional Opportunity Fund for the project. AeroFarms qualifies for state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s job creation will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP).
“We’re pleased that AeroFarms has selected the Cane Creek Centre for their new mid-Atlantic facility”, said Robert “Bob” Warren, Vice-Chairman of the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority and member of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “It is only appropriate that the largest county in the Commonwealth by land area will soon be home to the world’s largest and most advanced vertical farm. The region has placed a heavy emphasis on attracting technology-based agribusiness firms through strategic investments in our workforce, and we thank AeroFarms for their commitment to Southern Virginia and its people.”
“AeroFarms is a perfect example of how blending technology with agriculture can provide an environmentally responsible solution to growing nutritious food,” said Fred Shanks, Chair of the Danville Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority. “Given the history and importance of agriculture to this region, I cannot think of a better place for AeroFarms to locate. We are delighted to welcome them to this great community.”
“The Tobacco Commission has always supported Virginia’s agriculture industry, the backbone of our state’s economy, and attracting AeroFarms to Danville-Pittsylvania County is a big win,” said Senator Frank Ruff, Tobacco Commission Vice-Chairman. “AeroFarms’ technologically advanced approach to farming is an example of how the industry is adapting to meet the demands of modern consumers and I am pleased that they chose to grow their business here in Southside Virginia.”
“It is exciting to see an innovative company like AeroFarms open their first Virginia location here in Southside,” said Delegate Danny Marshall, a Tobacco Commission member. “Attracting a company like this to our region shows that the effort we have put into developing a top-notch business climate is paying off. I welcome AeroFarms and their team to Danville-Pittsylvania County and wish them the best as they get hiring underway.”