Infarm launching growing center
COLUMBIA, Md. — A Dutch urban farming company announced plans last month to open a massive indoor produce facility in Howard County that could grow up to 45 million units of food each year.
Infarm is renovating a 200,000-square-foot building in Columbia for a new growing center that will serve as its hub to supply grocery store chains along the East Coast, the Amsterdam-based company said on June 22. The facility will be the company’s largest so far and is part of its expanding presence in the United States. It operates a growing center in Seattle and has announced plans for another in Austin, Texas.
The company, which uses massive amounts of data from its cloud-connected farming operations to guide growing strategies, claims to have already sold half of the facility’s first scheduled harvest in the spring of 2023. The facility may also expand the following year. Its food is grown in modular, so-called farming units — each one about 430 square feet and 33 feet tall — that produce up to half a million plants per year while saving, Infarm claims, 95 percent of the space and water required in conventional agriculture. The food is pesticide-free.
Infarm already produces more than 70 products such as herbs, leafy greens, premade salads, microgreens, and mushrooms, whose yields, taste and production cost are continually improved using a steady stream of plant data. They’re adding another 40 products, such as strawberries and cherry tomatoes, this year. The company reportedly reached a billion-dollar valuation late last year as it received $200 million in venture capital funding. Founded in 2013, Infarm said it’s the world’s fastest-growing urban farming company.
“The opening of our largest U.S. growing center to date in central Maryland demonstrates Infarm’s commitment to rapidly grow a local food infrastructure in the U.S. market for the benefit of people and the planet,” said Erez Galonska, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “Howard County is a great strategic location that will allow us to serve over 23 million consumers across the tri-state and Mid-Atlantic areas.”
The Columbia facility is expected to produce about 50 new jobs. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball praised the project’s economic benefits.
“It is exciting to have one of the world’s largest urban farming operations locate its newest facility here in Howard County, which is a magnet for innovative businesses like Infarm,” he said. “Our Gateway District continues to be an engine of economic growth, and Infarm’s investment brings more jobs to our community with a welcomed focus on sustainability. Infarm is revolutionizing how we grow and consume food locally and we look forward to a long partnership to advance the sustainability of our food system.”