Jacob Isham checks the seedling crop. Courtesy photo.
Vermont Business Magazine Eating fresh, local greens during the winter months can be a challenge but Ceres Greens of Barre, an early stage vertical farming company, is working to supply fresh, local produce to institutional and food service customers year-round. The Flexible Capital Fund has announced an investment of $75,000 to help the company grow.
Ceres Greens founders Jacob Isham, right, and Greg Kelly. Courtesy photo.
In 2016, Ceres Greens co-founders Jacob Isham and Greg Kelly met and realized they had similar aspirations to grow local produce for year-round consumption. Isham, an eighth-generation Vermonter, Army veteran and finance professional, and Kelly, a savvy technology entrepreneur with experience growing businesses, complement each other perfectly. They are committed to working towards a future where healthy food is available to everyone. With predictable harvests and the ability to grow food close to population centers, they believe indoor vertical farming is a way to accomplish this.
Since 2016, the company has grown from a 1,900-square-foot warehouse space where they prototyped their vertical farm and develop their plant 'recipes' to a fully operational 12,500-square-foot facility in a designated Opportunity Zone in downtown Barre, VT.
Growing racks at Ceres Greens, with seedlings underneath. Courtesy Ceres Greens.
Because Ceres Greens’ mission is purpose-driven and seeks to be a part of a larger solution for food security globally, the Flexible Capital Fund invested $75,000 to be used to increase production capacity, plant density and plant weights.
“At Ceres Greens, we seek funding partners who share our principles of environmental, economic, and social responsibility,” said Ceres Greens Co-Founder Jacob Isham. “We are grateful to have received investment from the Flexible Capital Fund who shares our values and has brought expertise and guidance that has been invaluable to our company. We are excited to work with the Flex Fund to bring fresh, safe, and healthy local produce to our communities year-round.”
Flexible Capital Fund President Janice St. Onge couldn’t agree more.
A lettuce plug. Courtesy photo.
“We’re excited to have Ceres Greens as part of our portfolio of companies,” said St. Onge. “Ceres is in direct alignment with our mission of building healthy food systems and resilient communities, and providing livable wage jobs. In selling bulk, and growing hydroponically without pesticides and chemicals in an underutilized building in an Opportunity Zone, the company is reducing waste, conserving water, supporting community, and growing clean, healthy greens for the region.”
St. Onge met the Ceres Greens co-founders as a mentor for the DeltaClimeVT Food and Ag Tech 2018 business accelerator program. Isham and Kelly went on to win DeltaClimeVT Food and Ag Tech 2018, which meant $25,000 for their business as well as meaningful connections forged with mentors, advisors, potential investors and fellow entrepreneurs.
“When the opportunity came up to invest patient equity in the company, we already knew the team and potential for growth,” said St. Onge.
Racks and racks of vertical growing trays. Courtesy photo.
The Flexible Capital Fund provides creative financing in the form of near equity capital (subordinated debt and royalty financing) to growth-stage companies that strengthen the supply chain in sustainable agriculture and food systems, forest products, renewable energy, clean technology, and other natural resource sectors. As a mission-based investor, the Flex Fund is committed to helping portfolio companies grow, to help accelerate the rate at which Vermont, and the region, move towards healthy food systems, renewable energy, and climate change solutions.
Source: MONTPELIER, VT – 3.11.2020 Flexible Capital Fund www.FlexibleCapitalFund.com