Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday announced that Beanstalk, an indoor vertical farming start-up, will create 29 new jobs and invest more than $2 million to significantly expand production and relocate in Herndon.
The company’s new facility will produce a variety of pesticide-free leafy greens and specialty herbs year-round using proprietary hydroponic growing technology, achieving annual sales of over $5 million in the next three years. Beanstalk sells its fresh salad mixes and fresh-cut herbs through national grocery retailers, Northern Virginia farmers markets, and in its on-site retail store.
“Fairfax County is the perfect place for a startup like Beanstalk to put down roots and grow their company,” Northam said. “We are pleased to support a project that blends agriculture, Virginia’s oldest and largest industry, with technology, one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy. Innovative entrepreneurs like Mike and Jack Ross are demonstrating how STEM fields can help cultivate new techniques like hydroponics that make fresh produce more accessible.”
Beanstalk is a sustainable farming company that focuses on agricultural innovations with a mission to grow the world’s consumption of fresh produce.
Founders and Alexandria natives, Mike and Jack Ross have notable engineering experience and a keen interest in the local food movement and solving problems of the modern food system. Mike is an aerospace engineer, who previously built artificial intelligence software for an entertainment company and lead the development of a digital platform for an international grocer. Jack, a computer engineer who built an iOS app at age 16 with more than half a million users, was recognized by Northam with the prestigious STEM Catalyst Award in 2018 for the development of an automated indoor growing prototype.
He developed Beanstalk’s highly automated production system to efficiently grow plants in a dense, palletized format. Using this technology, the company can produce food four-times as efficiently as traditional hydroponic farming.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Fairfax County and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) to secure the project for Virginia. Northam approved a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, which Fairfax County will match with local funds. Funding and services to support the company’s job creation will be provided through VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program.