DANVILLE, Va. – Out with the old, in with the new.
“This region is no longer doing business the way it used to always be done," said Bob Warren, chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors during an announcement Wednesday that a vertical farm is coming to the county.
AeroFarms is investing $42 million to build a 150,000 square-foot vertical farm in Pittsylvania County, potentially growing hundreds of varieties of vegetables.
“This is going to be the largest vertical farm in the world,” said David Rosenberg, CEO of AeroFarms.
Rosenberg said plants can be grown in as little as four days and can be on store shelves within 24 hours after being harvested.
“Our mission is to grow plants for the betterment of humanity. That’s pretty broad. Within that, part of it is to grow plants locally so everyone has access to fresh, great tasting, safe food,” said Rosenberg.
State and local leaders said Wednesday’s announcement is an example of what can happen when local governments work together with the state.
“Working in partnership to ensure we have innovative agricultural businesses like AeroFarms, and just seeing what’s possible,” said Bettina Ring, Secretary of Virginia Agriculture and Forestry. “This year, Time magazine named (the company) one of the best innovations for food and beverage. The Magazine Fast Company also cited AeroFarms as one of the world’s most innovative companies.”
That collaboration is what caused AeroFarms to plant roots in Pittsylvania County.
“We thought the state and local officials could really work with us as we grow,” Rosenberg said.
Ring presented AeroFarms representatives with a state flag and announced two state grants worth a total of $400,000 to help the new facility open.
The Tobacco Commission is also providing a $380,000 grant.
Rosenberg declined to say when the facility could open.