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Gladstone acquires farms in Arizona, North Carolina

The farmland REIT invested nearly $30m in six farms across North Carolina and southwestern Arizona.

Farmland REIT Gladstone Land Corporation has invested nearly $30 million in six farms across North Carolina and southwestern Arizona.

The investor spent $2.2 million on two contiguous organic farms in North Carolina and $27.5 million on four farms in southwestern Arizona. The purchases are its second and third acquisitions of 2017 as part of ongoing efforts to diversify its portfolio by region and crop type.

The deals come after the January purchase of 3,750 acres of organic farmland in South Florida for $54 million, the firm’s largest deal to date.

On the REIT’s Q1 earnings call last month, founder and chairman David Gladstone said that the company owns farms growing more than 35 different row crops across 15 growing regions. Gladstone added that about 35 percent of the company’s current fresh produce acreage is either organic or in transition to organic and that the company has about $60 million in liquidity for further acquisitions.

“We believe that a well-diversified portfolio of farms with different crops provide an added security for our investors,” he said. “The demand for prime farmland in berries and vegetables remains extremely strong in areas where our farms are located.”

The Arizona properties consist of 3,253 gross acres and 3,032 irrigated acres and will be used primarily to grow leafy greens and melons, according to a statement from the firm. It also said that an unidentified portion of the irrigated acres purchased are organic.

Gladstone’s acquisition in North Carolina, its first in the state, also includes a 10-year lease agreement with the property’s current tenant, Southern Belle Organics, which grows organic berries and vegetables on the farm.

Southern Belle owner Bricklyn Rooks said in the statement that the capital infusion from the sale-leaseback would be used to invest in packing and harvesting technologies.

“We are extremely pleased to make our first acquisition in the Carolinas, one of the premier growing regions in the eastern US for fruits and vegetables,” Gladstone managing director for the eastern US Bill Frisbie said in the statement. “We hope to partner with many of the other great farmers in the Carolinas to acquire more farms growing blueberries, sweet potatoes and many other crop types.”

Gladstone’s portfolio is made up of 65 farms across 8 US states and is valued at approximately $490 million as of March 31.