Heron Farms Inc., a Charleston-based startup specializing in vertical farming operations that require no naturally occurring freshwater, has received a $250,000 investment from SC Launch Inc.
SC Launch Inc. is the investment affiliate of the South Carolina Research Authority.
Heron Farms uses seawater to grow its primary crop, sea beans, according to a news release. Sea beans are a plant that provide an all-natural alternative to salt.
In 2022, Heron Farms became an SCRA Member Company and received a $50,000 Acceleration Grant.
Through Heron Farms’ process, freshwater is then captured from the sea bean through a process called evapotranspiration. This freshwater is then used to grow other crops, all without using any naturally occurring freshwater. In addition to being the starting point of a sustainable water cycle, sea beans are an alternative to natural salt that provide a vegan source of Omega-3, more magnesium than avocados, protein and iron, among other benefits, according to the release.
“The concept for Heron Farms began as a research question posed by (Heron Farms) founder Sam Norton while in graduate school,” said SC Launch Director Matt Bell. “The company was started with a passion for sustainable solutions and the science to support their work.”
Restoring one square foot of marsh for every pound of food they sell, Heron Farms has a goal of creating a sustainable agricultural system and restoring marshlands using seawater, according to the release.
“We focus on scalable sustainability aided by sophisticated technologies which include predictive software, cutting-edge automated data collection and analysis methods to manage and monitor water salinity, carbon dioxide, growth cycles and yield,” Norton said. “Having a partner in SCRA and SC Launch Inc. is supporting us to continue developing sustainable foods that are also healthy and delicious.”