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April 29, 2024

Vertical Harvest in Westbrook secures nearly $60M in financing

Photo / Tim Greenway A view of Vertical Harvest, under construction in Westbrook.

Wyoming-based Vertical Harvest has secured $59.5 million in public-private financing to help finish construction of a 51,000-square-foot hydroponic farm in Westbrook.

The company says its goal is to create a controlled, vertically built environment that will allow Mainers to harvest vegetables year-round. The indoor farm in downtown Westbrook is expected to open early next year and to employ 47 workers. 

"We're on a mission to grow food as local, fresh and fair as possible, and ensure there's a place at the table for everyone in the future of food,” said Nona Yehia, the CEO of Vertical Harvest.

The funding was led by Madison One, a credit union-owned collaborative and supported by Waterside Commercial Finance LLC. The financing also includes $25 million and $23.8 loans that utilize USDA Rural Development Business & Industry Loan Guarantees and Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans, respectively.

"As ‘The People's Department,' we are happy to support fresh food and good jobs here in Maine, as well as the equity of access to both. USDA Rural Development is committed to building communities and feeding Mainers. We look forward to Vertical Harvest being a part of the team fulfilling those shared goals," said Rhiannon Hampson, the Maine state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Program.

The financing is supplemented by a $8.7 million Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy loan — the first in Maine administered by the Efficiency Maine Green Bank and issued through Nuveen Green Capital — and $2 million of American Rescue Plan funding through the Finance Authority of Maine.

Vertical Harvest said in a press release that the project is a significant part of New England Food Vision, an effort to locally produce 30% of food consumed in the region by 2030 and 50% by 2060. The initiative will include producing 2.5 million pounds of leafy greens every year — such as lettuce, petite greens, microgreens and herbs. The produce will be distributed to local schools, hospitals, restaurants, markets and consumers.

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