RICHMOND, VA (STL.News) Governor Ralph Northam today 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 within Fairfax County. 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,” said Governor Northam. “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 Governor 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.
“Virginia is a leader in the movement toward sustainable, indoor growing thanks to companies like Beanstalk who keep the Commonwealth on the forefront of emerging agriculture advancements,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am thrilled the Commonwealth could partner with Fairfax County through the AFID program to support this expansion and grateful for business owners like Mike and Jack Ross who are committed to agri-technology innovation and providing Virginians with fresh, local produce.”
“Virginia takes great pride in being a leader in agriculture and technology, and we are thrilled to see Beanstalk growing in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The company will benefit from Fairfax’s County robust tech workforce and the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, which helps ensure businesses have the talent they need to succeed.”
“Jack and Mike grew up in Virginia schools, were inspired to pursue STEM careers, and are now investing back into Virginia’s economy through their innovative work,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Beanstalk is an example of why we must ensure students across our Commonwealth have access to high-quality STEM education programs. I am confident this innovative company will serve as an important link in our growing STEM ecosystem for years to come.”
“Jack and I are incredibly proud to be developing our technology and growing local produce in Virginia,” said Beanstalk co-founder Michael Ross. “Being ‘Virginia Grown’ ourselves, we are excited to be bringing new technology to the industry and new jobs to our home state.”
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 this project for the Commonwealth. Governor 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.
“We are always looking for innovative investments to move our economy forward in Fairfax County,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay. “Beanstalk’s new facility will not only bring new jobs to the community, but it also is a creative solution to using advancements in technology to increase access to fresh food options.”
“As a hub for innovation of all kinds, Fairfax County is an ideal location for Beanstalk’s innovative indoor farm facility,” said Victor Hoskins, President and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “By utilizing its hydroponic growing technology in a larger space, Beanstalk will be able to produce even more pesticide-free greens year-round. The FCEDA congratulates the company on its expansion plans in Fairfax County.”
“The Town of Herndon is thrilled to welcome Jack and Mike Ross’ Beanstalk Farms to our community,” said Town of Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem. “Theirs is exactly the kind of innovative, jobs-producing business we are looking to attract to our town’s commercial sector, and we applaud their application of technology toward provision of healthy, locally-grown produce.”
“We welcome Beanstalk’s expansion in our community,” said Senator Jennifer Boysko. “I applaud the reuse of an existing structure for this innovative business bringing agriculture to a suburban area through the use of technology to grow pesticide-free produce.”
“I’m proud to represent innovators like Jack and Michael who push Virginia as a leader in the agricultural technological revolution that gets us closer to quality, affordable, and nutritious food for all citizens of the Commonwealth without pollutants that damage our environment,” said Delegate Ibraheem Samirah. “I look forward to working with Beanstalk to enrich our community.”