Founded in August 2018, West Village Farms operates a controlled indoor farming environment that grows baby greens and micro-greens for retail grocers and food services.
As a result of growing their products indoors, the farm uses about 90% less water than crops grown outside, and they can better control the temperature, humidity and lighting to create optimal growing conditions. In addition, they combine traditional greenhouse techniques with vertical farming which helps conserve space.
Ken Kaneko, CEO of West Village Farms, said that he and his business partners started the company because they saw a need for quality micro-greens. Since beginning operations last year, they have seen double-digit revenue growth month to month, and after initially starting with three members, they now have a team of seven.
“My business partners and I started this firm because we felt we wanted to grow a quality product for customers to enjoy,” Kaneko said. “The team focuses so much on product quality and customer service. Clark County is also a balanced blend of industry and agriculture. We can conveniently find vendors and partners to help with growing the business. A great example is actually our facility, which is part of the former HP facility that used to manufacture printers. We leveraged the existing industrial infrastructure of the building to make sure our operations can run smoothly.”
Because they’re able to limit contamination from the outside, no pesticides or herbicides are used and products are delivered to grocers within 24 hours of harvest. Their products are also a little different – they focus on introducing uncommon varieties of greens and edible flowers, so people can discover new flavors. To do this, they mix in cultivars, including things like Chinese loose-leaf cabbage and Ethiopian kale to their micro-greens.
Kaneko went on to say that the response from local grocers has been especially receptive.
“We are very fortunate that the Pacific Northwest appreciates and resonates with our core philosophy of delivering fresh, high-quality products to the local community,” he said. “Grocers in Vancouver and Portland stand behind their word in supporting the local economy by genuinely engaging with local vendors. We really appreciate the likes of Chuck’s Produce, Zupan’s Markets and New Seasons Market to have taken a chance on us.”
West Village Farms looks forward to expanding their product selection and distribution, and plans to do that by collaborating with food banks, youth education programs, farmers markets and other community events.
“Our plan is to expand our reach to more customers and bring them joy through our product,” Kaneko said. “We would like to root ourselves more firmly into the Vancouver and Portland communities.”