Backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars in fresh new funding, Fieldless Farms sees fertile floor for growth as it strives to get its hydroponically developed create into grocery merchants throughout the region.
Introduced 3 several years in the past, the Ottawa-centered startup is now advertising leafy greens in more than 40 Farm Boy shops in Ontario as well as Massine’s Your Independent Grocer and McKeen Metro Glebe in the money.
But founder and CEO Jon Lomow suggests Fieldless is poised to cultivate a bountiful crop of new market chances following finalizing a $17.5-million series-A funding spherical led by Forage Money Partners, a Calgary-primarily based VC that mostly invests in agri-tech ventures. Farm Credit rating Canada and the Enterprise Enhancement Lender of Canada also contributed debt funding to the round, which was announced on Thursday.
Lomow states the funds will allow for the company to raise its manufacturing capability tenfold when including new goods to its lineup.
“Canada has a substantial challenge,” the Carleton University organization graduate reported in an job interview with OBJ on Thursday morning.
“We import $60 billion of food stuff a yr, and that’s a bit of a risk. We’re starting off to wake up to the fragility of offer chains and how people forms of disruptions to supply chains can develop inflation pressures on meals.”
“We import $60 billion of meals a calendar year, and that’s a bit of a hazard. We’re starting off to wake up to the fragility of provide chains and how these types of disruptions to supply chains can develop inflation pressures on foodstuff.
“We require to commence getting far better at manufacturing our own meals. Technologies is receiving to the position that we can actually make a dent in these imports. I assume there is a enormous economic prospect in that $60-billion number, and we’re concentrated on likely big into that amount.”
Forage Funds chief government Jim Taylor is betting that Fieldless has the merchandise to deliver on that promise.
“We definitely like Fieldless’s solution and what the business has been quietly and expense efficiently creating listed here in Canada,” Taylor reported in a statement. “We consider the organization is effectively positioned in the present-day financial climate for continual and considerable progress.”
Fieldless generates two forms of lettuce mixes – Northern Crunch and Ontario Sweets – at its Cornwall indoor farming facility. Lomow would not reveal exactly how much deliver Fieldless at the moment grows, but in 2020 he told OBJ the agency sent virtually 2,000 packs of lettuce a week.
That variety has nearly undoubtedly risen since. The lettuce, which is grown without having herbicides or pesticides in a local climate-managed, 20,000-square-foot indoor farm employing renewable power, has turn out to be so well-liked “we have difficulties keeping it on the shelves,” Lomow mentioned.
Increasing to 60,000 square toes
Fieldless is in the midst of increasing its Cornwall facility to 60,000 square toes as it pursues new shoppers and branches out into new crops. Now at 30 staff members, the firm expects to much more than double its headcount about the subsequent couple yrs.
Lomow reported the firm is searching to boost the yield of its present lettuce mixes and incorporate other leafy greens this sort of as kale, spinach, romaine lettuce and extra to its listing of solutions. From there, Fieldless hopes to start out cultivating other greens these kinds of as cucumbers and peppers as nicely as other foods.
The company’s other principal precedence is acquiring its greens into more merchants. Lomow reported Fieldless will possible target main supermarket chains this kind of as Loblaw and Sobeys – which is owned by Farm Boy’s dad or mum organization, grocery huge Empire – in a bid to spread its footprint from coast to coast.
The firm, which elevated $3 million in seed capital to get off the ground in 2019, now feels it has the perfect financial partners to assist it obtain its lofty mission.
Lomow mentioned he’s “super excited” to have Forage on board, contacting the Western Canadian fund “probably Canada’s savviest, most properly-recognised agri-food VC.” Meanwhile, FCC and BDC present a potent 1-two punch on the debt funding side.
“We see it as a very long-expression strategic partnership with each FCC and BDC,” Lomow stated. “It’s going to allow for us to develop a good deal far more … employing personal debt.”
Fieldless – which associates with a variety of Canadian and international businesses that supply its point out-of-the-art hydroponic technology that grows crops without soil – is by now planting the seeds for yet another funding spherical that could come to fruition inside the next 12 months, he additional.
If quite a few in the Canadian company community see storm clouds on the horizon as the menace of a recession grows stronger seemingly by the day, Lomow appears unfazed. Canada’s food stuff sustainability troubles aren’t heading to just soften absent, he notes, generating the agri-tech sector an attractive proposition for investors seeking a safe harbour.
“I believe the way that we’ve arranged our company tends to make it vastly appetizing to investors searching to deploy funds in a market place like this,” Lomow explained.
“The air is kind of out of the tech bubble a minimal bit, and when you are in a current market like this that’s tremendous concerned about supply chains and foodstuff sustainability and food dependability and all all those issues, we have bought this emerging sector of meals-tech and biotech occurring. I consider it’s type of the great put for buyers to convert ideal now.”
Like nearly every firm that’s in growth manner proper now, Fieldless is contending with mounting source chain disruptions and ongoing labour shortages that are hampering its initiatives, Lomow conceded.
How effectively the corporation can prevail over all those hurdles will go a lengthy way to deciding its capability to hard cash in on a at the time-in-a-technology opportunity, he mentioned.
“We’re battling all people matters like every person else is. We’re operating as tough as we can to get this occurring as immediately as attainable. We have bought to execute, and we’ve bought to do it nicely and rapid.”