Dave Augustine, founder and CEO of Living Greens Farms of Faribault, Mn., is constructing an expansion of Living Greens’ three-year-old 5,000-square foot prototype “indoor farm” to 45,000 square feet.
“We are sawing and pounding right now and the expansion is half built,” Augustine said Wednesday.
A veteran corporate electrical engineer, Augustine has financed Living Greens so far with $7 million in friends-and-family equity, and sales of produce to food cooperatives and several grocers.
“Our technological advantage is taking common growing equipment and reengineering it so that we can grow a lot more product in a lot less space for less capital cost and that uses less labor, energy and water," Augustine said. “Most indoor farms don’t run at a profit. We hope to be profitable next year on sales of about $4.5 million.”
Augustine has started meeting with prospective institutional investors. He hopes to raise up to $20 million in additional equity capital.
Living Greens has signed a distribution deal with Robinson Fresh, a unit of huge third-party logistics firm CH Robinson, which will be the distributor of greens and herbs in North America to retailers such as Lunds & Byerlys. Living Greens already is selling to some Kowalski’s and Hy-Vee stores.
Living Greens uses an “aeroponic,” vertically stacked system that it says uses far less water, space, is disease resistant and grows faster without herbicides or pesticides.
Living Greens estimates it uses 200 times less land and 95 percent less water to produce a comparable amoung of vegetables and herbs.
By reducing the number of days and miles in the supply chain by serving close-to-farm customers, nutrients, flavors and healthy textures of its products are preserved, Living Greens contends.