New Fair Food Fund Investment in Radicle Farm Company

Most people don’t think about the revolutionary potential of salad.

But Christopher Washington, James Livengood, and Tony Gibbons are taking a fresh approach with Radicle Farm Company.

Radicle Farm Company started in 2014 when Washington, Livengood, and Gibbons began producing hydroponic salad greens in a small greenhouse in Newark, New Jersey.

It could have stopped there, but their passion for innovation spurred them to develop a new product: a “living salad.”

Radicle’s live salad greens have intact roots nestled in contaminate free soil mix. Sold in the same recyclable tray where the seeds are planted, its greens are ready to be snippedc, rinsed, and enjoyed. With just a little water and a windowsill of real estate, customers can harvest fresh salad for two or more weeks, twice the shelf life of bagged salad products.

The “radical” nature of these greens goes beyond its new-product-category status. According to a recent NPR story, California’s Salinas Valley accounts for around 70 percent of the salad greens produced in the U.S., meaning that greens consumed on the east coast often travel thousands of miles from field to fork. In addition to raking up unsustainable food miles, greens are usually weeks old by the time they’re sold leading to increased food waste due to spoilage. Even more concerning, a 2010 Consumer Reports study found that nearly 40 percent of bagged salad greens tested positive for fecal bacteria.

Radicle addresses such concerns. Found on the shelves of grocers like Whole Foods Market for around $3.99, it also received the 2014 Editor’s Choice NEXTY award winner at the Natural Products Expo East. The company is currently seeking organic certification, which they anticipate having in place later this year.

To meet growing market demand, the company launched a second greenhouse in Utica, New York in spring 2015 and has quickly expanded to nearly 50,000 square feet, which amounts to an eight-fold increase in living salad production.

This July, the Fair Food Fund made a $200,000 convertible debt investment in Radicle Farm Company to fund equipment, marketing, and working capital to help the company further expand production in its New York facility.

“Radicle combines a unique blend of technology and sustainability and grows delicious salad greens,” said Alex Linkow, program director of the Fair Food Fund, which provides financing and business assistance to good food entrepreneurs that connect family farms with consumers hungry for local, sustainably grown food. “Radicle points the way to a new frontier for the good food movement which tackles quality, safety, and resource conservation simultaneously. We’re excited to work with their great leadership team to scale this innovative business model.”

The Radicle Team

In a recent interview, co-founder Christopher Washington remarked, “Our dream is that living salad will become so commonplace that we as a culture will look back at our bagged salad days and ask, ‘what were we thinking?”

Dig deeper in other Fair Food Fund investments. And try something Radicle for your next salad.