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Nebullam launches farm-to-door program for central Iowa residents

Nebullam, an emerging indoor farming company based in Ames, has launched a delivery service of its fresh food products to Central Iowa residents, to ensure that Iowans have access to locally grown lettuce, herbs, and microgreens during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as year-round. 

“In the span of six days we decided to pivot from selling to restaurants to going from farm-to-door, offering fresh lettuce and microgreens direct to consumers weekly or bi-weekly,” said Clayton Mooney, co-founder of Nebullam. “We put up an e-commerce site, got everything set up, and launched.”

Since pivoting, Nebullam has had its best month of revenue to date and is growing at almost ten percent month over month, Mooney told Clay & Milk.

“In some ways, the change has really been a blessing in disguise for our business model,” said Mooney.

Nebullam was founded in 2017 with a primary focus of improving indoor farming technologies to help indoor farm owners and operators become profitable, faster. Today, Nebullam owns and operates its own indoor farm within the Iowa State University Research Park. 

“Prior to COVID, about 3/4 of Nebullam’s produce was going to Central Iowa restaurants with the remain 1/4 going to grocery stores,” said Mooney. “In early March, we began talking to friends on the west coast who are indoor farmers about restaurants shutting down there and felt like it was inevitably going to happen here as well.”

Nebullam’s indoor farm produces red butterhead lettuce and microgreens such as broccoli sprouts and micro radish. Through Nebullam’s site residents from Ames, Boone, Nevada, Ankeny, and Des Moines can subscribe to have fresh produce delivered directly to their door, every week or every other week. In addition to Nebullam’s website options, you can always find fresh Nebullam lettuce and broccoli sprouts at Wheatsfield Co-op in Ames. 

“We do have two restaurant partners that have come back online. When our other restaurant partners are able to get back up and going again, we’ll have the production to meet their weekly needs,” said Mooney. “As for the direct-to-consumer, we’re pretty excited to continue to pursue that.”

Nebullam launches farm-to-door program for central Iowa residents | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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