With a fresh round of funding in hand, Greenswell Growers is a step closer to sprouting additional production capabilities to fuel its expanding grocery store presence.
The Goochland-based indoor farming company reported last week it has raised $6.9 million in a capital round from investors.
A portion of the funding is earmarked for expansion of its 77,000-square-foot indoor growing facility and headquarters at 1343 Hockett Road in the West Creek Business Park, where it grows leafy green vegetables.
Greenswell President Carl Gupton said the planned expansion project, with the addition of two new greenhouses, is expected to more than double the company’s facilities footprint to around 170,000 square feet.
The expansion is in response to demand amid an increasing retail footprint at grocery stores, particularly with a new deal with Kroger stores. Marketing is also a major use of the new funding.
“With the sales we’re seeing jump up right now, we want to get our feet moving into expansion quicker and this does that for us,” Gupton said.
Gupton declined to identify the investors in this latest round, but described them as internal investors.
Construction on the project, which the company revealed plans for less than a year ago, is anticipated to start in the late summer or early fall.
The company currently grows 700,000 pounds of greens annually, and Gupton said they anticipate being able to triple production when the new growing space is operational. The company has 13 employees and expects it will grow its ranks to around 20 people as part of the expansion project.
Construction is expected to take 18 months once it kicks off. Gupton said a general contractor and architecture firm have been lined up but he declined to identify them.
Gupton said the company is still working on a cost estimate for the project, but that the most recent round of funding’s allocation to construction won’t cover the entire project and that additional funding would be sought for it.
Also last week, packages of Greenswell greens started to appear in more than 90 Kroger grocery stores in Virginia and nearby states. The products on Kroger shelves are co-branded with Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, which Gupton said has a minority stake in Greenswell.
The co-branded line of greens comes as the latest in Greenswell’s ongoing dealings with Ukrop’s. Last year, the companies signed a deal to allow Ukrop’s to use Greenswell’s greens in its products like sandwiches, and Gupton said input from Ukrop’s has helped the company get into retailers.
“We called our good friends at Ukrop’s to navigate the retail channels. Bobby (Ukrop) and his group at Ukrop’s helped us navigate that and advocated for us,” Gupton said. “You need to prove yourself with these retailers, and it’s hard to find a company that’s proven itself better in retail channels than Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods.”
Greenswell was already selling its leafy greens in Food Lion and Harris Teeter stores, as well as in small local stores like Libbie Market and Yellow Umbrella Provisions.
On its website, Greenswell lists its products as available at stores in the Richmond, Hampton Roads, Roanoke and D.C. areas as well as in West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. It also sells its greens to restaurants.
Gupton said Greenswell greens are expected to be available in two more large grocery brands “fairly shortly” but would not provide more detail.
Greenswell was founded by Chuck Metzgar, formerly managing director at consulting firm Mercer, along with John May, president and CEO of the Center for Innovation and Development in Kilmarnock, and Feed More President and CEO Doug Pick.
The company seeks to position itself as a closer-to-home source of greens for retailers and restaurants on the East Coast. Most leafy vegetables in the United States are grown in western states.
Greenswell started growing greens at its indoor farming facility in 2021. The company anticipates it will achieve profitability soon, Gupton said.
To date, Greenswell has raised at least $19.9 million, according to SEC filings.