A futuristic farming project planned for downtown Westbrook has secured nearly $60 million in new financing from public and private sources.

Vertical Harvest Farms, which is building a 51,000-square-foot hydroponic farming building on Mechanic Street, has secured $59.5 million in the public-private collaboration. 

The money comes from private finance companies backed by and combined with the USDA’s Rural Development Business & Industry Loan Guarantees and Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans.

“USDA Rural Development is committed to building communities and feeding Mainers, and we look forward to Vertical Harvest being a part of the team fulfilling those shared goals,” USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson said. 

The farming project broke ground in 2021 and is expected to open sometime this summer, employing more than 60 people. 

The project makes use of hydroponic farming. Leafy green vegetables are grown without soil with their roots in a nutrient solution. This allows for many plants to be grown in a smaller space that would take acres of land using traditional farming methods.

The company estimates being able to produce 2.5 million pounds of lettuce, petite greens, microgreens and herbs every year. The farm will operate year-round, providing produce to Mainers even in the dead of winter with a philosophy of farm to fridge within 24 hours.

"We're on a mission to grow food as local, fresh and fair as possible, and ensure there's a place at the table for everyone in the future of food,” said Vertical Harvest CEO Nona Yehia.