AUS: Vertical farm seeks $10 million as it breaks new ground in Queensland

Gold Coast-based Stacked Farms is looking to raise $10 million to further expand its vertical farms across Australia, as the organization breaks ground on its new $13 million sites and looks to take advantage of crippling labor shortages across the agriculture sector.

The vertically integrated business, which has developed its own structures, lighting, seeding, and harvesting machines across a fully automated process, has started work on a 4000-square-meter farm that will further serve the company’s supply contracts with Morco Fresh, one of Australia’s biggest fresh produce wholesalers.

Led by Conrad Smith, the business aims to plug the seasonal holes in fruit and vegetable supply and solidify supply as extreme weather events increase thanks to climate change. “We’ve got a continuous rotation of drought in this country, where every three or four years we tend to drop back into it – add to that floods and bushfires and the supply chain becomes very challenging,” said Mr. Smith.

The current expansion will make Stacked Farm more than 10 times the size of its current operation in Queensland and the second biggest of its type in the world, behind AeroFarms. A few good years of rain have boosted Australian farming confidence, with a recent Rabobank rural confidence survey reporting confidence is at its highest levels in the survey’s history.

“We’re looking at using green biogas or hydrogen as an energy source, and we’re hoping to capture any CO2 that’s created through our process to be piped back into the farm,” he said. Stacked Farms has already raised $5 million through a convertible note, and until now, has been largely funded through Mr. Smith’s family. The company is raising another $10 million through another convertible note raising led by Seventytwo Capital.

“After this facility that we’re currently building, we’re looking to build another large-scale commercial farm, potentially in Victoria,” said Mr. Smith.

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