Little Leaf Farms has successfully raised USD 300 million in new capital in a funding round led by The Rise Fund, TPG’s multi-sector global impact investing strategy, and debt funding from Bank of America. The funding will support the company’s growth & expansion plans to make Little Leaf Farms’ lettuces accessible to more than half of the United States by 2026. To reach said goal the company will double the acreage of its current facility and open a new greenhouse in McAdoo, Pennsylvania this summer.
Founded in 2016 by TPG in partnership with Bono and Jeff Skoll, The Rise Fund brings an unrivaled ability to help businesses grow and achieve long-term success. As per their press release, The Rise Fund’s investment in Little Leaf Farms “underscores the increased consumer interest and demand for sustainability grown produce and supports Little Leaf Farms’ mission of fresh, leafy greens for all.” The transaction will also see Maya Chorengel, Co-Managing Partner of The Rise Funds, joining Little Leaf Farms’ Board of Directors.
“This funding from our partners at The Rise Funds and Bank of America marks a pivotal moment in Little Leaf Farms’ growth story,” said Paul Sellew, Founder and CEO of Little Leaf Farms. “We’ve seen, especially in recent years, how important locally grown food is to communities, and we’re proud to bring customers the freshest leafy greens that are harvested with 90% less water than conventional lettuces and shipped in less than 24 hours. With this funding, we’re transforming the way millions of Americans eat and enjoy leafy greens, no longer relying on choices that have traveled thousands of miles across the country to reach them.”
“Little Leaf Farms is driving significant efficiency improvements in the growing process for leafy greens by meaningfully reducing water usage and greenhouse gas emissions at scale. The company’s mission to deliver local and sustainably grown lettuce year-round is well-aligned with The Rise Funds’ goal to accelerate the growth of companies that are meeting large-scale environmental and social problems with innovative solutions,” said Ms. Chorengel. “With this investment, we’re proud to extend Little Leaf Farms’ leadership in the market as it scales its business and continues to offer the best quality, reliability, and consistency to a growing customer base.”
The capital raise includes support from Bank of America, an early debt investor in Little Leaf Farms that helped fuel the brand’s success and growth throughout the Northeast.
“Little Leaf Farms is not only providing fresh, sustainable regional produce, but it is also redefining local agriculture and building more sustainable solutions in our local communities and in the industry,” said Randy Mitchell, Sr. Relationship Manager for Bank of America. “By investing in companies like Little Leaf, we’re helping to scale more low-carbon solutions.”
A New Facility in McAdoo, Pennsylvania
Opening in July, the new state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse in McAdoo, PA will be the company’s fourth greenhouse and will enable the distrubition of their produce throughout the Northeast. The McAdoo farm will increase the brand’s retail presence by 50%, with products available in more than 3,500 grocery stores.
The greenhouse will intergrate all the innovations Little Leaf Farms’ has made in the past years, including energy efficient heating, cooling, lighting, use of advanced data analytics and hands’free automated grow systems. Using hydroponic methods, Little Leaf Farms grows its lettuce under glass and recycles rainwater, natural sunlights resulting in 90% less water cosnumer than filed-grown greens and solar panels to generate electricity.
The company plans to further their expansion in Pennsylvania and North Carolina to serve its growing customer base with the opening of several new greenhouses in these states. This aggressive growth plans enabled them to grow their retail sales by 50% representing, according to the company, 42% of the CEA lettuce produced in the US.
“We have continued to transform the way consumers think about leafy greens, showing with just one bite that local and fresher is better,” continued Sellew. “This is just one step in our growth trajectory, and we’ll continue to strive for new innovation and broadened distribution to bring our lettuce to every consumer in North America.”
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as exclusive placement agent for Little Leaf Farms in connection with the capital raise and Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian acted as legal counsel. Kirkland & Ellis acted as legal counsel to The Rise Fund.