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Continuing research in microbiomes

US (NY): Upward Farms ceases all vertical farming operations

Upward Farms ceases all vertical farming operations in the US, including the new to-be-constructed farm in Pennsylvania. "We found that vertical farming is almost infinitely complex, as we tackled challenges, new ones emerged", the three founders share. 

Ever since the news got out last week on Upward Farms closing their vertical farming facility in Williamsburg, NY, plus laying off staff, it was unclear what would happen to their other premises. Now, the company has confirmed it will cease to operate all vertical farming facilities.

"We are closing our Greenpoint, Brooklyn Headquarters farm, which was the only production facility. We closed and moved from our first farm in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn after opening our much larger HQ in Greenpoint in 2021. We will not open our PA farm, which was under development," says CEO Jason Green.  

Remaining farms
Announced in 2022, Upward's 250,000-square-foot facility, which would be located in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, was set to be completed and operational at the end of 2023. The farm would be supplying various microgreens and striped bass to consumers throughout the Northeast.

Although the company held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony in September 2022 for their new Pennsylvania farm, to this day, the construction of the farm has never been completed. 

Co-founders statement
The three founders, Jason Green, Ben Silverman, and Matt La Rosa broke their silence and shared the following statement:

"It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing that Upward Farms is closing its Brooklyn Headquarters Farm and will cease to operate in the vertical farming sector. We want to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who has been a part of this journey, including our colleagues, investors, customers, partners, families, and friends."

"We at Upward Farms have come a long way, together with the rest of the world, in understanding the microbiome as the regulatory system of the natural world. Improving the soil microbiome, perhaps one of nature's most awe-inspiring achievements may be the key to unlocking new levels of fertility and growth in plants and addressing myriad other global challenges. The science of microbiomes is an incredibly exciting field, and it feels like we've only just peeked behind the curtain."

"Our team faced challenges head-on, humbly asking ourselves, “If not me, who, and if not now, when?” Though we are closing a chapter, we are celebrating the remarkable accomplishments of our hardworking team, the delicious products we brought to consumers, and the positive impact we had on the food industry at large." 

While Upward Farms is closing its doors, a small portion of its team will continue working on microbiomes. In the coming months, the company will have more to share. 

Funding history
Thus far, the company has raised a total of $141.7 million in funding over 6 rounds as Crunchbase shows us. The first funding round was raised in May 2018 when they bagged $5 million from investors Prime Movers Lab. One year later, in July, another $15 million was provided by the same investor allowing them to expand operations. In the same year, in December, Upward published a pre-money valuation of $225 million of its operations by White Buffalo Capital. Finally, in June 2021, they received another $121.7M in funding as per SEC Filing. 

According to Crunchbase, funding came from seven investors;  Recharge Thematic Ventures (2 times), White Buffalo Capital (once), Recharge Thematic Ventures (once), Harmonix Fund (once), Prime Movers Lab (main investor), and Steve Jurvetson (once). 

As they state, they found that vertical farming is almost infinitely complex, and new challenges kept on emerging. Although their team faced these various hurdles, Upward Farms is closing a chapter celebrating the accomplishments of their team, products, and positive impacts on the industry. 

For more information:
Upward Farms