Crop One Holdings, a vertical farm operator through its FreshBox Farms brand, will sponsor its first qualified opportunity fund to invest in building and operating a new vertical farm located in a qualified opportunity zone in the Austin-San Antonio corridor.
The Vertical Farm Opportunity Fund #1, a Regulation D 506(c) offering, will raise capital to develop the farm’s facilities and to fund business operations. The farm produces crops indoors without the use of pesticides and will primarily serve Austin, as well as San Antonio, Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Vertical farms require that temperature, humidity, light, water and plant nutrients be provided in a controlled environment. Crop One anticipates locating many of its future farms in opportunity zones that have potential for farm-to-table distribution, in locations that may range from rural to urban settings.
“With this opportunity zone fund, we are bringing scalable, vertical farming technology to Texas,” said Sonia Lo, chief executive officer of Crop One Holdings. “The new farm will be environmentally conscious and produce fresh, locally-grown food that is healthy and affordable.”
Crop One’s produce is sold in more than 35 grocery stores in the Northeast U.S through its FreshBox Farms brand. In 2018, Crop One entered into a joint venture with Emirates Flight Catering to build the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai, which will begin production early 2020.
“With the creation of at least 75 new jobs in its initial phase, the farm will have a positive economic impact on the local economy,” added Deane Falcone, Crop One’s chief science officer. “As with all of our farms, the farm is expected to use 99 percent less water compared to conventional farming. Our products are pesticide-free, non-GMO, nutritious, and delicious, and because our produce can reach more than 17 million people within a 3.5-hour radius, we will be able to reduce food miles and food waste.”
Enacted as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, opportunity zones were created by Congress to encourage social advancement and private investment in low-income communities to aid job creation and new business formation.
Opportunity zone investors are eligible for a range of tax benefits, including deferral of current capital gains, a tax reduction of up to 15 percent on current gains and no capital gains taxes on appreciation of the opportunity zone fund interest if the interest is held for 10 years or more.
California-based Crop One Holdings operates two subsidiaries: FreshBox Farms in Millis, Massachusetts, and a joint venture with Emirates Flight Catering in Dubai South, United Arab Emirates.