Plenty Unlimited has entered an agreement with real estate investment trust Realty Income for up US$1bn in development funding for the US firm’s indoor vertical farms.

First up under the partnership is financing for Plenty’s new vertical-farming hub in Richmond, Virginia, a project announced in September. Realty Income will “acquire and provide development funding for properties that will house Plenty’s indoor farms. These properties will be leased to Plenty under long-term net leases,” according to a statement

The California-headquartered company cultivates leafy greens, herbs and a selection of fruits and vegetables in a controlled indoor environment. Earlier this month, Plenty announced a new R&D centre in Laramie, Wyoming, with a $20m grant from the state’s business council.

Plenty’s new campus will grow strawberries under an existing partnership with retailer Driscoll’s.

Realty Income CEO and president Sumit Roy said: “We are pleased to announce this strategic relationship with Plenty – whose sustainable business practices align with Realty Income’s values, which include giving more than we take in our community and environment.

“Our entry into agriculture technology provides another potential growth opportunity for our company. Over time, we aspire to expand our collaboration with Plenty internationally in markets of mutual interest.”

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Arama Kukutai, Plenty’s CEO, said: “Scale is a critical component of advancing indoor farming’s role as a core contributor to our global food supply. Teaming up with Realty Income is a significant step forward in accelerating the deployment of our farms with vertical-farm facilities that are purpose-built to support Plenty’s proprietary growing technology.

“The predictability and positive unit economics of Plenty’s farms make it possible for us to utilise more traditional forms of funding, such as this strategic alliance with Realty Income. This represents an advancement in the way indoor farming assets are capitalized and paves the way for their development as an asset class.”

Last year, Plenty said it would be investing $300m over six years in the Virginia “campus”. It marked the business’ expansion beyond the West Coast through the partnership with Driscoll’s, which is also a long-term investor.

Following the strawberry farm, the new sites will cultivate leafy greens and tomatoes, with an ultimate annual yield goal of 20 million pounds.

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