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Indoor farming operations face bankruptcies, layoffs, closures

fifth season vertical farm
Pittsburgh-based indoor Farm fifth season reportedly ceased operations in November.

Not too long ago, the produce industry watched as billions of dollars went into the indoor farming boom. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a bust, we’re seeing some growing pains.

Mainstream media is awash with tech layoffs, and indoor farming — much of which is funded by private equity and venture capital — is showing signs of weakness.

Just in the last two months, we’ve seen a major bankruptcy, two publicly-traded companies vote for reverse stock splits to keep from being delisted, farm closures, sales, loans, and companies going completely out of business.

Here are just a few of the headlines:

Is indoor farming at risk? I don’t think so. The industry has been growing steadily for decades, particularly for operations growing staples like cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes. The market is well-established for those items.

The recent challenges are a prime example of the “bleeding edge” side of technology and innovation. Billions of dollars have been invested, and now those investors are looking for returns. Combine that with high start-up costs, variability and fickleness of farming — growing indoors is still farming, after all — market conditions, and, the economy, and we’re in for a wild ride in 2023.


Pamela Riemenschneider is the Retail Editor for Blue Book Services.