Vermillion Growers, a women-led, family run company out of Manitoba, has opened up the crowdfunding and investment campaign to raise money for what they call Manitoba's first large-scale greenhouse. Vermillion Growers plans to grow tomatoes-on-vine (TOV). "Tomatoes are the largest imported greenhouse vegetable commodity. An estimated 90% of table tomatoes in Canada are imported. We aim to displace importers, not existing local growers", they explain.
Ground broke already earlier this year, when the company started the erection of the first phase of 5 acres. Their first crop is planned before the end of 2019. The total build is planned in 3 phases, expanding to 30 acres by the end of year 5. "We can grow tomatoes on the vine in Manitoba, and the weather is no obstacle for year-round nutritious, delicious produce. In fact, our high-tech greenhouses benefit from the cool weather as it is easier to heat than cool down, and we can provide complete traceability."
Now the company has partnered with FrontFundr, Canada's largest investment crowdfunding platform, to raise the final sums required to build the 5 acres of greenhouses. Canadians can invest from CAD 250 on the platform. "We are growing food, growing people, growing community. That's also why we are opening up the investment to the community, so people can benefit not just from the hundreds of jobs we will create, but also from investing in the business."
The company has set a funding strategy combining equity investors & preferred shareholders. This way they've raised CAD 12.75 million so far and looking for another CAD 3.75 million.
The crowdfunding has 200,000 shares available (preferred shares at CAD 50 each) and asks a minimum purchase of five shares. They offer 8% dividend and, through retained earnings and traditional finance, aim to be in a position to begin to buy out investors in 3 years.
"North Americans eat on average 16 lbs. of tomatoes a year. With our current contracts we can reach 2.6-2.8 million people in Manitoba, The Saskatchewan and Western Ontario. That’s 41,600,000 lbs. of tomatoes", they concluded.