Founded in 2011, Natural Produce is a social enterprise that owns and operates state-of-the-art heated and cooled greenhouses in Brighton, Colorado. By creating a replicable and scalable manufacturing process for local produce, Natural Produce has become the fastest growing producer of local and organic greenhouse-grown tomatoes in Colorado, which can be found in stores under the Larry’s Local Organic brand. Currently, it has two fully operational greenhouses, and it just completed construction on a new, 65,000-square-foot greenhouse, along with two smaller research and development greenhouses to test different crops. By 2020, Natural Produce plans to expand its footprint to include 14 new greenhouses.
Why We Invested
Through our investment in Natural Produce, which will fund the addition of two greenhouses, Gary Community Investments has the opportunity to receive full market-rate returns while achieving tangible social impact aligned with our mission. In addition to producing local, healthy food in an energy-efficient greenhouse environment that uses 90 percent less water than conventional farming, Natural Produce is committed to employing single, working mothers and providing them with a healthy, ergonomic working environment that includes education and training for all employees and flexible working hours.
As our investment generates financial returns for Gary Community Investments, we expect to also increase the number of single mothers hired and retained by Natural Produce, helping to boost the economic self-sufficiency of these employees’ families. Through our participation, GCI is looking to further accelerate Natural Produce’s social impact by encouraging the addition of early care and education facilities at its greenhouses as the company scales, connecting them to partners, such as public school districts, that could benefit from local and organic produce, and eventually transferring ownership to its employees through a employee stock ownership plan.