LOS ANGELES -- Local Roots has announced that its next generation TerraFarm has achieved cost parity with traditional farming, according to a press release. In response to demand for its produce from corporate customers, acceptance to the UN World Food Programme and membership in the Creative Destruction Lab with the world’s top technologists, Local Roots also announces it will deploy more than 100 new TerraFarms in 2018 and hire 150 new team members. The company already has top talent from Amazon, Boeing, Tesla, The Carlyle Group and Hollandia.
A Better than Organic Farm in a Modular Box
Built inside upcycled 40’ shipping containers, Local Roots’ TerraFarms grow better than organic produce year-round in nearly any geography, using 99 percent less water, no pesticides and at the same cost as traditional farms, according to the release. Leveraging the best of plant science and engineering, Local Roots has created a proprietary system that is the optimal environment for plants to flourish. As a result, these high-tech TerraFarms yield ultra-nutrient produce that is equivalent to five acres of farmland or 4,000 heads of lettuce every 10 days, 600 times more produce than the equivalent footprint of an outdoor farm.
Local Roots has a unique modular approach that enables it to quickly deploy and scale large numbers of TerraFarms at or near corporate customers’ large food distribution centers. This approach allows Local Roots produce to last nearly two weeks longer than traditional produce, a compelling offering for an industry suffering from 52 percent spoilage rates, according to the release.
“Spoilage and food waste are major issues and not just for retailers since the costs are passed onto consumers too,” said Eric Ellestad, co-founder and CEO of Local Roots. “What we are doing is not a thought experiment. We are advancing agricultural technology to solve major problems in today’s food supply chain and we’re deploying a solution that already works.”
Working with the United Nations and AI Leaders to Improve Global Health
Local Roots announces today that it has been selected by the UN World Food Programme to field test its TerraFarms in emergency and development contexts. The vertical farming company is driven by a mission to improve global health by building a better food system and this program is critical towards fulfilling this purpose.
Local Roots also announces today that they have been accepted to work with some of the brightest minds in technology through the Artificial Intelligence (AI) program at the University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab. Local Roots is already using machine learning, computer vision and AI to develop the future of farming. Through CDL, the Local Roots team will work with leaders in AI to apply this bleeding edge of technology to agriculture.
Lastly, Local Roots is partnering with a major U.S. retailer for a large-scale deployment of its TerraFarms and details will be announced early next year. Existing Local Roots customers are Tender Greens, and Mendocino Farms. Local Roots has already raised $10.5 million to date from FoodTech Angels; Jerome Metivier, Managing Director, PepsiCo Ventures; Sequel Capital Management; Green Planet Global and others. Local Roots’ Series A financing is expected to close early 2018.
Throughout 2018, Local Roots will add more than 150 team members in the Greater Los Angeles area mostly focused on plant scientists, engineers and production experts. To help scale the company, Local Roots has brought on Marissa Peretz, founder of Silicon Beach Talent and a former Tesla recruiting leader who helped Tesla grow from approximately 200 employees to thousands.
Additionally, Local Roots is expanding into a spacious 165,000 square feet manufacturing and headquarter facility in Vernon, Calif., 15 times larger than its original space. The first facility will remain focused on R&D and product development. January 2018 marks the start of manufacturing for the more than 100 new TerraFarms in the new location. To scale the farms, Local Roots has hired manufacturing talent such as a former rocket and spacecraft manufacturing and engineering director to design the systems and processes for the mass production of the TerraFarm. Local Roots engineers and plant scientists have created the next generation TerraFarm that is more efficient, productive and cost effective than other indoor farms. Local Roots’ proprietary system of lights, software, airflow, automation and controls give plants the perfect balance of light and nutrients to make them as healthy as possible while also unlocking their yield potential. The TerraFarms’ modular design allows Local Roots to quickly test and revise new designs and operating practices more economically than traditional indoor farms.
With an additional 2.5 billion people expected to live on planet earth by 2050, along with increased environmental stresses, productive farmland shrinking and a population migrating to cities, efficient urban farms have the opportunity to help feed the world.