“We have just successfully completed our initial capital raise to build the first commercial-scale vertical farm that runs solely on solar power,” says Christian Prokscha, co-founder and CEO at Eden Towers. “Within the next 24 months, we want to expand into every major city of Australia and capture the fast-growing market”.
The next capital raise of $10-20 million (AUD) will commence in August and focus on rolling out farms across Australia, with Sydney and Melbourne a priority. Mid-2022, the company will be starting its plans to build farms in Singapore and expand the current farm in Indonesia under the brand “Wada Hijau”.
Eden Towers is an Australian vertical farming company that supplies leafy greens, herbs, microgreens and edible flowers to multiple buyers including independent grocers, restaurants and B2C clients in Perth, Western Australia.
Christian Prokscha and Julia Prichodko
Back in 2019 Christian, the family office he represented, started investing in sustainable agriculture, such as poultry farms, aquaculture and agri-tech. However, soon after trying out these types of agriculture, Christian started exploring vertical farming. “After looking at several vendors and assessing them in terms of cost, efficiency and scalability we selected Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS). They were very willing to share data and insights and had a technology solution that was far superior to others. From there on we started a partnership.” says Christian.
Eden Towers have been working with IGS to review the market and products for Australia since mid-2020. Very quickly they validated the market and small-scale commercial farm production was started in early 2021.
Australia’s broken value chain
Julia Prichodko Co-Founder of Eden Towers states “Once we started to assess the value chain in Australia, it showed that it’s complicated, expensive and doesn’t produce the best fresh produce. Although the weather is amazing to grow crops, explains Julia, the right quality and consistency of supply aren’t always obtained.”
“As we build an industrial scale farm, it’s more interesting to move up in the value chain. Leafy greens are great, but the competition is high. We want to move into specialty crops, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrials, etc. We’ll be exploring this through our R&D portfolio” Julia affirms. “Further we are also exploring the propagation of field crops.”
Eden Towers’ unique value proposition
Eden Towers is competing directly with products that traditional farmers are currently growing, the company grows different varieties of kale, parsley, basil, microgreens, spinach and lettuce. Christian says that Eden Towers differentiates itself through the diverse varieties of cropmix they offer and the ability to compete at wholesale prices. Currently, the company is trialing strawberries, edible flowers and chilies.
Eden Towers aims to produce large volumes, in order to win the business of grocery chains and large retailers. Being able to provide consistent, year-round supply of products is critical. Even though vertical farming is more expensive to establish, the ongoing marginal cost of production is much lower. The company is also able to scale much more effectively and can effectively compete at the wholesale level in partnership with IGS.
While the Australian market still needs a fair bit of education in relation to post-organic produce and vertical farming, it is very big on healthy food and healthy living. The many people who have tried vertical farming produce were amazed by the taste, texture and color and say they are willing to pay a bit more for it. “That assures us there is definitely a market. We only need to keep engaging with customers to educate them on the benefits and opportunities, and about the range of new crops we can produce as we grow.” says Christian.
In Australia, Eden Towers’ first farm will start production with 60 tons a year, utilizing only 600m2 land area; made up of 200m2 for the growing towers and 400m2 for the service area. This allows an opportunity for quick expansion to 120 tons per year and beyond as the market grows.