Efficient greenhouses being built at stores and distribution centres
By Treena Hein
New York-based BrightFarms continues to design, build and operate energy and water-efficient hydroponic greenhouses on-site at northern US supermarkets and food distribution centres, “eliminating time, distance and cost from the food supply chain,”says the company. Their greenhouse designs incorporate many efficiency features.
The company held two ground-breaking ceremonies this month for construction of new greenhouses, bringing their number of greenhouse operations to 12.
“BrightFarm greenhouses are capable of capturing waste heat from the host building,” the company states on its website. “This allows our systems to use no additional fossil fuel for heating, or only a small amount. We also use low energy cooling systems. When available, we generate power for cooling by installing solar panels.”
“We [also] design our greenhouses so the roof captures rainfall. In many urban areas, enough rain falls on the greenhouse to supply all or most of its water needs. This saves on water bills and also helps reduce storm water runoff.”
In addition, BrightFarms states that their hydroponic greenhouse designs allow them to “grow food with a fraction of the land and water” required with field agriculture. They also “produce no agricultural runoff and have a dramatically reduced carbon footprint.”
Construction on two new greenhouses began this month
On June 4th, BrightFarms and J&J Distributing began construction on a large hydroponic greenhouse in Minnesota. J&J Distributing supplies wholesale fruits and vegetables to retailers throughout the Twin Cities. J&J received $500,000 from the Saint Paul Community Development Block Grant Recovery Act to build the greenhouse. The company also received city funds in the form of the State of Minnesota Jobs Bill Tax Increment Financing to expand its distribution facility and make energy efficiency upgrades.
The 38,000 ft2 greenhouse will grow over 350,000 pounds of lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs per year, creating up to six full-time jobs and as many as 50 part-time construction jobs.
On June 14th, BrightFarms held another groundbreaking ceremony less than a mile from the flagship McCaffrey’s Market store in Yardley, Pennsylvania. (McCaffrey’s Market is an independent grocery with stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey). The greenhouse site is located at the historic Patterson farm in Lower Makefield Township.
This greenhouse is part of a long-term produce purchase agreement between BrightFarms and McCaffrey’s. BrightFarms says it is the grocery industry’s first, and marks a shift in the produce supply chain. “BrightFarms’ dramatically shorter supply chain means jobs for local farmers, support for local economies, and produce that is thousands of miles fresher,” states the company in a press release.
At this 50,000 ft2 greenhouse, BrightFarms will grow about 500,000 pounds of produce per year. In addition to supplying McCaffrey’s, the greenhouse will supply restaurants in Philadelphia through BrightFarms’ partnership with John Vena, is a family-owned and operated wholesale produce business.
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