News | 7 min read
World’s largest campus for indoor vertical farming coming to Virginia
September 14, 2022
News | 7 min read
September 14, 2022
RICHMOND, VA – Gov. Glenn Youngkin today announced that California-based Plenty Unlimited Inc. will build the world’s largest indoor vertical farming campus, a $300 million investment in Chesterfield County’s Meadowville Technology Park. The company recently secured $400 million in a Series E financing round, the largest investment to date for an indoor farming company. Plenty has developed the world’s most advanced indoor farm, powered by the company’s more than 200 patent assets, to efficiently and sustainably grow clean, flavorful produce year-round on its more than 30-foot grow towers. Plenty will complete its Richmond Farm Campus in multiple phases over the next six years, creating more than 300 full-time jobs. The company’s first farm on this site, a dedicated Driscoll’s berry farm to be completed by winter 2023-2024, will be the first to grow indoor, vertically farmed strawberries at scale.
Virginia successfully competed with five other states for the project, which further advances the Commonwealth’s reputation as a leader in the fast-growing industry of Controlled Environment Agriculture.
“Plenty’s decision to establish its first major east coast vertical farming campus in Virginia shines a spotlight on the advantages that make the Commonwealth the best location in the nation for companies growing our food safely and sustainably indoors,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin. “This transformational project further bolsters Virginia’s agriculture and technology industries and positions the Commonwealth as a leader in this next generation of agriculture. I am pleased to welcome Plenty to Virginia and look forward to the company’s growth and success in Chesterfield County.”
“Indoor farming is fundamentally changing agribusiness with environmentally and socially responsible farming technologies that make local, sustainable produce available to more communities,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Plenty will be able to easily grow and distribute fresh products to thousands of customers from its new campus in Chesterfield County, reinforcing the benefits of Virginia’s strategic location and dedicated workforce. We are proud to welcome Plenty to the Commonwealth and thank the company for further advancing the Controlled Environment Agriculture industry in Virginia.”
“There will come a day when we look back in disbelief that we would source fresh produce from half a world away, when companies like Plenty are proving that we can grow that same produce right here, year-round, in a way that not only tastes better, but that is also dramatically better for our environment,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr. “Technological advancement is what drives the industry of agriculture forward, so I am thrilled Virginia is playing a leading role in the indoor farming revolution that is changing, for the better, where much of our food is coming from.”
“At Plenty, we’re on a mission to sustainably grow fresh food for everyone, everywhere,” said Plenty CEO Arama Kukutai. “This campus will raise the bar on what indoor vertical farming can deliver. The scale and sophistication of what we’re building here in Virginia will make it possible to economically grow a variety of produce with superior quality and flavor. We look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with the government of Virginia as we endeavor to rewrite the rules of agriculture.”
“Bringing the world’s largest indoor vertical farming facility to Chesterfield is a tremendous success for the county,” said Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Winslow. “Indoor vertical farming is a growing and important way to bring fresh, locally grown products to consumers throughout the year and Plenty Unlimited is the national leader in this field. We could not be more pleased to welcome them to Chesterfield.”
“Innovation, technology, and agriculture go hand-in-hand in Virginia, and we are thrilled that Chesterfield County will soon be home to the world’s largest indoor farming campus. We’re pleased that Plenty is the latest sustainable company to select Greater Richmond to grow their operations.” Jennifer WakefieldPresident + CEO, Greater Richmond Partnership
“We are excited that Plenty has chosen Chesterfield County for their first East Coast facility,” said Felicia Howard, Vice President Economic Development Strategy, Dominion Energy. “Dominion Energy looks forward to providing them the necessary power to successfully reach new markets.”
“It is clear that access to an expanding international trade gateway was key in Plenty Unlimited’s strategic decision to come to Chesterfield County and we look forward to partnering with them as their global gateway,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “Plenty is building a one-of-a-kind, environmentally conscious vertical farming operation and this company’s sustainability philosophy aligns with The Port of Virginia’s larger goal of becoming completely carbon neutral by 2040. Virginia is the top location for agriculture-related cargo, and we welcome of the news of Plenty’s investment in Virginia.”
“Plenty Unlimited Inc.’s decision to expand in Chesterfield County is welcomed news,” said Congressman A. Donald McEachin. “This sizable investment in our Commonwealth will create hundreds of jobs, bolster our agricultural industry, and increase healthy food production while doing so in an efficient and environmentally friendly way. I am proud that Virginia is helping lead in the indoor farming space, and I look forward to Plenty Unlimited’s success in our Commonwealth.”
“I am beyond proud to hear that Plenty will be making Virginia’s largest vertical farming investment,” said Senator Joseph D. Morrissey. “Not only is Plenty investing $300 million, they will also be bringing 300 much-needed jobs. It is initiatives such as this one that will make Central Virginia, and the Commonwealth as a whole, thrive for generations to come.”
“Access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a key component of healthy and thriving communities, so I am thrilled to welcome Plenty to Meadowville, where they will be leading the way in vertical farming technology right here in the 62nd district,” said Delegate Carrie Coyner. “Families in our community cannot wait to pick up a carton of strawberries in our local grocery stores and have peace of mind knowing they were grown right here in our own backyard and that every time we purchase your products, we are supporting our local economy.”
Founded in 2014, Plenty is rewriting the rules of agriculture through its advanced technology platform that can grow fresh produce anywhere in the world, year-round, with peak-season quality and up to 350x more yield per acre than conventional farms. Plenty’s proprietary approach preserves the world’s natural resources, makes healthy produce available to all communities, and creates resilience in our food systems against weather, location, pests, and climate. Plenty operates the largest-of-its-kind indoor plant science research facility in Laramie, Wyoming, and is currently building the world’s most advanced, vertical indoor farm in Compton, California.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Chesterfield County, the Greater Richmond Partnership, and Dominion Energy to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Youngkin approved a $2.4 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund, as well as a $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to assist Chesterfield County in winning this project for Virginia. The company is eligible to receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program, as well as the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created.
Support for Plenty’s job creation will be provided through the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a workforce initiative created by VEDP in collaboration with the Virginia Community College System and other higher education partners, with funding support from the Governor’s administration and the Virginia General Assembly. Launched in 2019, the program accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards, and culture. All program services are provided at no cost to qualified new and expanding companies as an incentive for job creation.