Bowery Farming, the largest vertical farming company in the U.S., opened its largest, most technologically advanced and sustainable commercial smart farm in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Transforming a former Bethlehem brownfield from a non-arable industrial site into modern farmland, the company’s newest commercial farm lays the groundwork for the next chapter in climate-smart agriculture.
The Bethlehem Farm features industry-leading technological advancements and pioneering sustainability initiatives and is the key to accelerating expansion of the company’s network of farms across the U.S. With this blueprint, Bowery has created a replicable system to grow food wherever and whenever it is needed as it continues its impressive growth trajectory.
“If we’ve learned anything from the past two years it is that we are in a period of unprecedented disruption and uncertainty across our climate and geopolitical circumstances, which unfortunately is going to persist. We are also seeing firsthand that our global food system is inextricably tied to these dynamics,” said Irving Fain, Founder and CEO, Bowery Farming.
“At Bowery, wherever food is needed, we can grow it. We are addressing the challenges in our system by growing food smarter for more people in more places – and that work, securing food for our future, continues today with the opening of our Bethlehem Farm.”
Bowery’s Bethlehem Farm is powered with 100% renewable energy and features 15% more efficient LED lighting. A state-of-the-art water recapture and filtration system has been custom-built to harness even the water that is transpired from the plants, and ensure the highest-quality food safety standards. The BoweryOS, combined with proprietary farm design, custom hardware, AI, data and robotics, has increased the speed of farm operations and processing allowing the company to continue to grow more food smarter. Critically, these learnings will be applied across Bowery’s network of farms in the future.
Bowery’s Bethlehem Farm will bring fresh produce to a population of 50 million people within a 200-mile radius of the farm via regional retail customers including Whole Foods Market, Giant of Landover and Albertsons Companies’ stores, as well as e-commerce partners like Amazon Fresh. Working with local distributors, including Four Seasons Produce, Bowery produce will be available to specialty and independent grocery partners throughout the region, like local grocer Gerrity’s in Bethlehem.
“In addition to bringing at least 70 jobs to Bethlehem, Bowery Farming is innovating to feed the future and fight food insecurity. This project is a win for agriculture and a win for Pennsylvanians,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.
“My investment in Bowery Farming supports economic revitalization for Bethlehem, creates jobs, and improves food security,” said Governor Wolf in a press release. “Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry is well known for its innovation, and Bowery will help us to continue charting a path for a sustainable, food-secure future.”
“Food security is defined as the availability, affordability, and accessibility of food. At a time when we’re all—consumers and growers alike—hurting from inflation and increasing prices, we must support the agriculture industry in new and diverse ways to ensure food security,” said Redding. “The governor’s investment in Bowery acknowledges and acts upon this need. It’s one more sign of his steadfast support for the industry that sustains us all.”
Bowery has partnered with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as part of a larger redevelopment project at the site of the flagship plant of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Bethlehem, in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII. This farm will create more than 70 full-time, year-round green jobs with no prior farming or agricultural experience required. Bowery is also building relationships within the Lehigh Valley community; through a partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania, Bowery will donate fresh produce to address food access and insecurity within the community. In Bethlehem and beyond, Bowery is committed to playing a prominent role in strengthening the local and regional food systems, contributing to economic revitalization and democratizing access to fresh produce.
Now serving more than 1,000 grocery stores, Bowery farming has raised more than $647 million to date, including a Series C equity round of $325 million in 2021 and a $150 million credit facility led by KKR earlier this year. The company is also on track to double its revenue again in 2022 for the second year in a row. Leaders in indoor plant science innovation, Bowery’s world-class R&D team is accelerating groundbreaking science at scale, developing new cultivars specifically designed for Bowery’s proprietary growing system, while also operating the first on-site breeding program for a vertical farming company.
In March 2022, the company launched two varieties of strawberries, offered in a side-by-side Bowery Strawberry Discovery Duopack. Strawberries are the latest innovation from Bowery, reinventing the way strawberries are produced locally and representing its first stage of expansion into fruiting and vine crops; Bowery also acquired Traptic in early 2022, a 3D vision and robotics harvesting start-up to accelerate the commercialization of fruiting and vine crops, starting with strawberries. Bowery’s product line of pesticide-free Protected Produce features 14 SKUs, including Farmer’s Selection, a rotating line of next-generation greens (such as the wildly popular Mustard Frills), a new-and-improved version of iceberg lettuce called Crispy Leaf, velvety and peppery Arugula with a punch, smooth yet crisp Baby Butter Lettuce, a selection of herbs and more.
Bowery is on track to double its number of farms by 2023, and to continue the diversification of its pesticide-free produce portfolio, unlocking new possibilities in food. Two additional farms in the Atlanta, Georgia, and Dallas, Texas, metropolitan regions are currently under construction to meet increasing demand for Bowery’s local, safer, and more sustainably grown Protected Produce, helping to alleviate the strains food insecurity puts on the U.S. food supply and economy.