Hydroponic Lettuce Grower Little Leaf Farms Raises $300 Million

Hydroponic Lettuce Grower Little Leaf Farms Raises $300 Million

Little Leaf Farms produces locally grown, great-tasting lettuce that is available year-round thanks to hydroponic growing technology. Photo courtesy of Little Leaf Farms.

Little Leaf Farms recently secured $300 million in capital investment to help the hydroponic lettuce company further expand its operations. Led by Texas-based investment company The Rise Fund and Bank of America, Little Leaf Farms intends to use the funds to expand its total acreage with the goal of making its product available to half the US population by 2026.

“This funding from our partners at The Rise Funds and Bank of America marks a pivotal moment in Little Leaf Farms’ growth story,” said Paul Sellew, founder and CEO of Little Leaf Farms, in a press release. “With this funding, we’re transforming the way millions of Americans eat and enjoy leafy greens, no longer relying on choices that have traveled thousands of miles across the country to reach them.”

Founded in 2015, Little Leaf Farms uses advanced greenhouse technologies, including data analytics and hands-free automated grow systems, to produce baby greens that are never treated with chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. The company sells a variety of leafy greens, including Baby Crispy Green Leaf, Baby Red & Green Leaf and Baby Spring Mix.

Related: Can Indoor Farming Revive America’s Food Supply?

In July, the company plans to open a new hydroponic greenhouse on 180 acres in McAdoo, Pennsylvania, expanding the brand’s retail presence by 50 percent, with products sold in more than 3,500 grocery stores. The company said it plans to open additional greenhouses in Pennsylvania and North Carolina to serve its growing customer base all year-round.

To achieve this, Little Leaf Farms has been working with several partners since it first launched in 2015. The company focuses on the most efficient and advanced growing technologies that allow it to grow the highest-quality lettuce at a scale and affordability and to potentially become the best-selling packaged lettuce on the East Coast.

Its partners include PB-tec, which is responsible for the water treatment system, the computer system, lighting and electronics, as well as Oreon, which supplies additional LED lights. Little Leaf Farms also reuses all flush water thanks to its advanced filtration technologies that treat the water and harvest all the rainwater to use it in irrigation.

Little Leaf Farms’ use of advanced technologies has previously caught the eyes of investors. On February 1, 2021, Little Leaf Farms raised $45 million in a funding round and just over two weeks later, it brought in another $90 million in a Series A funding round. The latest Series B funding round of $300 million brings the company’s total funding to $435 million.

Hydroponic growers like Little Leaf Farms are helping to reduce the global lettuce shortage.  The shortage began in 2020 when California lettuce growers faced hotter-than-average temperatures and crop diseases that led to a shortage of iceberg and romaine lettuce. Elsewhere, floods and extreme weather conditions in large portions of Australia decimated lettuce crops, shooting up lettuce prices.

Little Leaf Farms, as well as its competitors, including transportable modular hydroponic farms company Advanced Container Technologies, Inc, are hoping to enhance food security by providing leafy greens year round, despite weather conditions and supply chain disruptions.