A 10-acre greenhouse facility in Massachusetts is providing the United States’ East Coast with “local lettuce that locals love,” according to the company’s slogan. Paul Sellew started Little Leaf Farms with the vision of supplying the East Coast with fresh, locally grown leafy greens. On February 17, the company announced that it had raised $90 million in debt and equity financing to fully fund this expansion from New England to the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.
Founded in 2015, Little Leaf Farms began with a 2.5-acre greenhouse in Devens, Massachusetts which has since expanded to 10 acres by September 2020. Little Leaf Farms strives to incorporate as many sustainability principles into its production as possible through rainwater collection, zero agrochemical use, zero human contact with the greens to enhance food safety, and reduction of food miles by delivering products locally. According to Paul, Little Leaf Farms’ green leaf lettuce is the best-selling packaged salad in the New England area. The company doubled its retail sales to $38 million from 2019, and its lettuce is now available in more than 2,500 stores on the East Coast: they have expanded its distribution beyond the New England area to include New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and even South Carolina during the pandemic.
“As the food service sector retracted during the pandemic, grocery stores surged and we were able to take the product that was previously sent to food service companies and redirect it to grocers. As food service comes back, we want to continue to support them which is why we’re expanding. We want to keep providing the best leafy greens to the market,” explains Paul.
Little Leaf Farms/You Tube video
Rather than continue expanding its greenhouse facility in Massachusetts to service the entire East Coast, Little Leaf Farms is planning two facilities for construction in 2021. One facility is planned for Pennsylvania and another for North Carolina. The construction of new sites will be financed by the $90 million raised by Little Leaf Farms in a recent funding round led by Equilibrium Capital.
Additional investors include Coppermine Capital, Bill Helman and Pilot House Associates. Bank of America has also committed more than $20 million to date, with an additional $20 million planned. All in all, Little Leaf Farms is poised to install numerous facilities along the East Coast and effectively disrupt the traditional lettuce and bring production closer to home.
“It’s about knowing and trusting your farmers. Lettuce used to only be grown on the West Coast, in Arizona and California, without a face. These regions service all of North America, but that is not our business model,” says Paul.
“Creating local, year-round food economies just makes sense. Over the last five years, we’ve focused on the most efficient and advanced growing technologies. That way, we can grow the highest-quality lettuce, at a scale and affordability that will allow Little Leaf Farms to become the best-selling packaged salad on the East Coast. Our expansion strategy has allowed us to perfect our business model, but, more importantly, serves to delight customers and consumers every day.”
Little Leaf Farms
P.O. Box 2069
Devens, MA 01434