X-Caliber Rural Capital Lends $56M on Georgia Indoor Farming Development

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Organic farm company Hardee Fresh has secured $56 million of bridge financing for its planned enclosed vertical farming facility in southern Georgia, Commercial Observer can first report.

X-Caliber Rural Capital (XRC), an affiliate of X-Caliber, provided the bridge loan for the indoor organic farm development in Americus, Ga. The debt package will fund ground-up construction of the project slated for completion by late 2024.

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XRC, which was launched by X-Caliber in late 2021 to focus on loans backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for commercial real estate projects, partnered on the Hardee project with American Lending Center, an impact investor. 

“In this instance we elected to fund a bridge loan to fund or start construction because the USDA process itself can take some time,” said Jordan Blanchard, co-founder of XRC. “The plan is to utilize USDA debt to provide permanent financing.”

Blanchard said the deal closed in about 60 days compared to the typical four- to six-month timeframe for USDA loans. He noted that there wasn’t much competition for the transaction since the organic farming industry projects haven’t drawn much attention from the bigger banks, and smaller banking institutions tend to cap at around $20 million for this sector.  

Located adjacent to Jimmy Carter Regional Airport, the controlled-environment agriculture project will span nearly 340,000 square feet with more than 50,000 internet-connected devices. It will produce over 15 million heads of lettuce annually in addition to a variety of mixed salads while utilizing only 1 percent of the water used in traditional outdoor farm operations. Similar to Hardee Fresh’s farm in Wauchula, Fla., the new Americus facility will be powered primarily by onsite renewable energy.

“We are expanding our ability to use cutting-edge technology to ensure that our leafy greens are all natural and organic,” Halton A. Peters, co-founder and president of Hardee Fresh, said in a statement. “This new vertical farm is a critical step in Hardee Fresh’s mission to transform the way Americans eat produce, because it allows us to deliver affordable, sustainably grown, organic greens and salads with zero pesticides and zero herbicides to consumers in the State of Georgia and throughout the Southeastern U.S.”

Andrew Coen can be reached at acoen@commercialobserver.com.