Toronto investors back TruLeaf with $6.5m equity finance round

The indoor, multi-level farming company from Bible Hill, Nova Scotia said the funding will help scale its GoodLeaf Farms brand as well as expand its additional product offerings and global reach.

A group of Toronto investors led by a former Scotiabank chief executive has injected a C$8.5 million ($6.5 million; €6.1m) round of equity financing into indoor farming company TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture (TruLeaf).

The indoor, multi-level farming company from Bible Hill, Nova Scotia said the funding will help scale its GoodLeaf Farms brand as well as expand its additional product offerings and global reach.

Mike Durland, former CEO and head of Scotiabank’s Global Banking and Markets, who led the investors, will become a member of TruLeaf’s board of directors along with Neil Murdoch, former CEO of Connor, Clark & Lunn Capital Markets.

“We want TruLeaf to be a company that achieves a triple-bottom line by creating sustainable – and ultimately carbon neutral – food production, delivering nutrient-rich plants to communities that may not otherwise have access to them, and achieving a strong return for investors and stakeholders,” said Durland, who recently retired from his Scotiabank post, in a prepared statement.

The Bible Hill, Nova Scotia company, founded in 2011, developed a year-round indoor farming system that grows fresh plants for food and medicines anywhere in the world. The company claims its system is able to grow high quality, pesticide-free produce with predictable yield through vertical farming that is “nearly 10 times more efficient than traditional agriculture and is more productive, takes up less land and uses dramatically less water”.

As it has elsewhere in the world, appetite for local food in Canada has grown in the last 10 years. A 2013 BMO Food Survey found that Canadians buy locally grown vegetables above all other products, with 97 percent saying they bought local because it was fresher and tasted better.

A spokesperson for the deal declined to comment further on the structure of the investor group.