US – Plenty Unlimited is building the world’s largest and most advanced vertical farming research center in Laramie, Wyoming, parallel to two other projects.

The facility is supported by a US$20 million grant from the State of Wyoming through the Wyoming Business Council to the City of Laramie to help with construction and infrastructure costs.

Additional funding, land, and support for the project are being provided by the City of Laramie and the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance (LCBA). Construction of the facility begins later this year and will open in early 2025.

Plenty’s new research center is projected to be a more than 60,000-square-foot facility built on 16 acres of land in the Cirrus Sky Technology park in Laramie.

The new facility will double Plenty’s research space compared to the Laramie facility it has occupied since 2016, diversify its research environments, and support the transition of new crops to commercial farms by incorporating areas that more closely mirror Plenty farm environments.

Plenty CEO Arama Kukutai said: “Creating this new center of excellence greatly expands Plenty’s ability to transform indoor agriculture. We’ve already built one of the top indoor farming research ecosystems in the world in Wyoming.”

“Our new facility will expand our capability to grow the widest variety of crops, which is key to unlocking the potential of this category and addresses a major limitation for the industry today. This continued commitment to innovation is what’s needed to push indoor farming forward and make fresh food accessible to everyone.”

Plenty’s team and research work will transfer to the new facility from its current Laramie location once it’s completed.

The company is also building the world’s most advanced, vertical, indoor farm in Compton, California, and the world’s largest indoor vertical farm campus near Richmond, Virginia, which will expand its R&D in the vertical farming field.

The Plenty Richmond Farm Campus will mark the business’ expansion beyond the West Coast in a partnership with long-term investor and fruit grower Driscoll’s.

“Several” farms will be built on the complex over the six years, with the first cultivating strawberries, followed by leafy greens and tomatoes, with an ultimate annual yield goal of 20 million pounds.

Plenty said the first batches of strawberries grown in a controlled indoor environment at Richmond will arrive in retailers in the 2023-24 winter season.

However, while vertical farming is expanding around the world, it is an expensive business requiring huge capital outlays and technological inputs. Produce prices are not yet comparable with traditionally grown greens and fruits, and companies operating in the sector have struggled to turn a profit.

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