Adapt brings urban mushroom farms to the US • TechCrunch

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Canadian vertical farming startup Adapt AgTech is partnering with Reef Technology to bring mushroom-growing shipping containers to major U.S. cities, starting in Austin.

Reef transforms urban real estate like parking lots into mobility and logistics hubs and currently operates more than 8,000 locations in hundreds of cities. The partnership will help position shipping containers for customers like restaurants and grocery stores, without having to pay astronomical rent for commercial or industrial space in a downtown area.

Adapt opened its first delivery facility in Austin and began shipping to restaurants this week. Over the next few years, the startup plans to expand to more than 50 locations, including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Miami.

“Our model is to reduce the distance from farm to fork by creating highly local farms in densely populated urban areas,” Jonathan Murray, CEO and founder of Adapt AgTech, told TechCrunch.

Adapt Shipping’s network of container farms specializes in “aberrant gourmet mushrooms,” gourmet mushrooms that were not available in North American retail until recently. Think pink, yellow, blue and king oysters, chestnut mushrooms and the ever-trending lion’s mane.

“Mushrooms do very well in container farming with crops like leafy greens because of their energy consumption,” Murray continued. “They don’t need a lot of light. Of course it’s just temperature and humidity.

Launched in February 2022, Adapt delivered its first farm to a location in Toronto in June last year. The company has since grown and now has farms in Ottawa, Vancouver, Halifax, Kingston and Austin. On Feb. 17, Adapt said it will begin a partnership with Loblaws — Canada’s largest retailer — with two flagship stores in downtown Toronto and then dozens in Toronto and Ottawa before expanding to other locations in the coming months.

Adap will launch in 2023 under the retail banners of Canadian grocery chain Sobeys and Pattison’s Food Group.

“By the end of 2023, we will be in stores in at least three of the five largest retailers in Canada, representing more than 3,500 stores from Halifax to Vancouver and in between,” said Murray.

Adapt recently closed a seed round with climate VC Congruent, and will use the funds to expand its base and hire additional support.

Persistent fruit, cheap mushrooms

Image Credits: Agtech adapter

Agtech designs and manufactures shipping containers in Delta, British Columbia. In addition to the five containers in operation today, Adapt recently began production on 16 additional units and plans to deploy more than 25 units over the next 12 months. Some of the Adapt shipping containers are solar-powered with backup plugs, but for the purpose of quick US startups, the startup plugs the shipping containers into the grid. Energy consumption, Murray, is low – 10 kilowatt hours per day.

The company’s distribution model is similar to a hub and spoke. Adaptor uses a centralized facility in Kingston, Ontario to do all the lab work and colonize the subsoil – meaning the root mycelium of the fungus, allowing it to grow on sawdust, coffee grounds or coconut coir. The grower then ships the blocks to shipping containers, where the mushrooms can fruit near customers. Murray says this allows Adapt to deliver mushrooms within two hours of harvest, which means not only fresh mushrooms, but also long-lasting mushrooms and reduced spoilage.

The launcher deploys and runs containers and also executes commands. An operator oversees everything from picking to ordering to delivering the mushrooms.

“All of our containers are currently working on one full-time farmer, so we’re enabling them to become what we call ‘farmtrepreneurs,'” Murray said. “So uncapped commissions, grow your range as much as you can. We add containers, grow your territories. This allows us to bring new and younger people into agriculture, which is exciting.

Murray also reached out to existing mushroom farm operators to adapt their home businesses to Adapt Farms.

The whole process allows the startup to stay vertically integrated, and save money on materials like this, making Adapt unlike anything else available in the area. Adapt’s control over each farm allows the company to track down the best-fruiting mushroom varieties and distribute them more, giving the company healthy margins and high-quality produce at prices lower than what you’d find at farmers markets, he said. Murray.

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