Gov

Celebrating the grand opening and expansion of Beanstalk Farms in Herndon, Governor Glenn Youngkin and other state and local officials attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the vertical agriculture business on Sept. 13.

Aiming to promote the continued success of Virginia agriculture, one of the state’s largest industries, the event highlighted one of the most recent developments in controlled farm technology and sustainable agriculture production. The new facility expands Beanstalk Farms’ current operation and represents more than $2 million of new capital investment to a long-vacant warehouse facility, in an area Fairfax County has targeted for development. Beanstalk Farms will hire 29 new employees for various jobs in the new indoor farm and distribution facility.

Founded by brothers Jack and Michael Ross, Beanstalk Farms aims to encourage the natural and fresh production of produce for wide audiences of consumers. A main motivating factor for the two entrepreneurs regards the lack of fresh produce access for the average consumer and, given the brothers’ own interest in eating healthfully coupled with their experience in engineering, vertical farming seemed to be the perfect fit to encourage clean and plentiful harvest.

“Jack and I started Beanstalk to build a new food system based on locally grown fresh produce. We’ve come a long way from our time at UVA, and we are honored to be celebrating this achievement with the people who helped us get here,” said Beanstalk Farms Co-Founder and CEO Mike Ross. “With the incredible support of our community leaders and loyal customers, we know we can continue to grow and deliver on our promise to bring fresh, healthy produce to everyone’s door.”

The practice of vertical framing is an approach to horticulture that aims to optimize the growth of various plant species and utilizes a soilless approach through the use of modern hydroponics and heirloom seeds. The term ‘vertical’ is used to describe the stacked organization of the produce inside the grow room.

Baby kale, romaine lettuce, and spinach make up some of the fresh produce grown at the facility. Beanstalk is matching its advances in growing technologies with innovations in product delivery. Initially selling wholesale primarily to grocery stores, the company now offers online sales and direct delivery to individuals and restaurants. This dual market approach and supply-chain infrastructure enable the company to deliver fresh products to customers at the same price as retail.

“Founded by fellow Virginians Mike and Jack Ross, today’s celebration represents so much of what makes the Commonwealth the best place in the country to start and grow a business,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr. “From the world-class education Beanstalk’s founders received here in the Commonwealth, to Virginia’s surging spirit of entrepreneurship, to Northern Virginia’s exceptional environment for innovation; all of it coming together to bring new economic vitality to this community and better, fresher food to its residents. I congratulate Mike and Jack for today’s success and am excited to see how tall Beanstalk Farms will grow.”

The new headquarters marks the brothers’ most recent endeavor in sustainable agriculture. Having been read the classic fairy-tale story Jack and the Beanstalk in their youth by their mother, the business’ namesake takes inspiration from the classic tale, with the two using this experience as the catalyst for their interest in sustainable farming.

In addition to the onsite grow facility and storefront, the headquarters also features a large see-through window to view the vertical growth in real-time.

 “The two central challenges of successful farming have always been growing the best crops possible and getting those crops to your customers the best way possible. Beanstalk is meeting both of these challenges through technological innovations in plant production, harvesting, and customer-focused market solutions tailored to the region’s needs and assets,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Caren Merrick. “While this new facility may not be what most people think a farm looks like, Beanstalks Farms’ operation is very much what the future of agriculture may look like in our urban communities.”

In 2021, Fairfax County was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to help fund the Beanstalk Farms project. Funding and services to support the company’s creation of 29 jobs will be provided through Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“We’re watching Virginia become the leader in sustainable vertical farms with Beanstalk right here,” Youngkin said at the opening. “Here we see a company that is in fact growing magically like a beanstalk.”

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