Revol Greens has raised another $68 million to build its third greenhouse location in Texas, marking its third expansion in two years.
The Owatonna, Minn.-based company’s growth plans highlight rising demand for produce grown in climate-controlled environments that are closer to consumers.
The latest funding round — led by Equilibrium Capital, which focuses on businesses providing sustainable water and food solutions — brings Revol’s total fundraising to $215 million.
At 20 acres with room to expand another 60, the new Texas facility will be the largest lettuce greenhouse in the world. Chief Executive Mark Schulze said executives are still finalizing the location, but it will be somewhere in the “Austin-Dallas-Fort Worth triangle.”
Revol Greens is in the midst of converting an old 16-acre tomato and green pepper greenhouse to one for baby lettuces in Tehachapi, Calif.
That location has room to expand to 64 acres and is set to be open next year. Earlier this year the company expanded its original greenhouse in Owatonna from 2 to 10 acres.
Revol has plans for two more greenhouses in the next three years. Its current distribution map covers the Central and Southwest United States. With the stated goal of being a local source of greens, Schulze said, it’s reasonable to assume the next locations will likely fill in the map’s gaps in the Northwest and Eastern U.S. Indoor agriculture is growing nationally and has a special appeal in the Upper Midwest where harsh winters prevent fresh, local produce from being available for much of the year. There are several methods for growing lettuces and vegetables indoors, including aquaponics, hydroponics and aeroponics.
Revol Greens uses a closed-loop hydroponics system. Rainwater and snow melt from its greenhouse roof are captured then stored in an enclosed, on-site holding pond. Workers test the water daily and treat it with a chemical-free UV sterilization process to ensure it’s free of harmful bacteria. Its new facility in drought-prone California will use captured rainwater, but will have to draw up some well water.
Even so, Schulze said, the closed-loop system prevents losing most of the moisture.
“All of our water is recycled. The only place we lose it is in the lettuce itself,” he said.
The company said its facilities use 90% less water than traditional field-grown greens. Revol believes it has perfected its technology, recipes and data over the past three years under Minnesota’s extreme temperature and humidity swings.
“We are confident that we can deploy our technology anywhere on the planet,” Schulze said.
With the recent outbreaks of E.coli in outdoor-grown fields across Arizona and California, proponents of indoor agriculture say their climate-controlled facilities are also safer.
“High-tech greenhouses give us the ability to return to regional food systems with farms that produce our food near our communities,” David Chen, chief executive of Equilibrium, said in a statement. “Regionalism gives us resiliency, food security, and addresses the threat of climate change to our food system.”
Revol Greens was founded in 2016 by Marco de Bruin and Jay Johnson, who also started Owatonna-based Bushel Boy, which grows tomatoes in enclosed greenhouses. Bushel Boy has also expanded in recent years both in Owatonna and in Mason City, Iowa.