This great idea comes directly from the United States – and it is the best way for selling REAL locally grown products in grocery stores.
It’s in fact no secret that most produce purchased in grocery stores is far from “green,” grown in far away states and countries and transported hundreds, even thousands of miles, adding costs and carbon footprint along the way.
A New York City start-up called BrightFarms hopes to changes all that, one grocery store rooftop at a time. The company plans to design, build, finance and operate hydroponic greenhouse farms on supermarket rooftops, eliminating time, distance and cost from the food supply chain.
“It’s better food, better for the environment and better for business,” CEO Paul Lightfoot told Greener Design during a recent interview. “The idea of growing veggies on the roof of a supermarket struck me as cute, but what I wanted to know was whether it could become a real business, with scale. One of my reservations about local food is that small farms (and most farms near cities are small) can’t compete on price with big ones. So food at many farmer’s markets tends to be a pleasant indulgence for those of us who can afford it.”
The business premise is that BrightFarms can deliver better, fresher, more nutritious produce. Secondarily, Lightfoot said, it is better for the environment. The hydroponic greenhouses (which uses only water and nutrients, no soil) would focus on high-volume vegetables such as lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers and peppers, typically at a cheaper cost.
“In some instances, we’re actually selling for less,” Lightfoot said. “We can pretty much match the market’s wholesale tomato costs. We can beat the market’s loose leaf lettuce costs.”
Although he would not reveal which grocers BrightFarms is currently speaking to about installing the rooftop greenhouses, Lightfoot said seven large retailers have signed letters of intent, noting that he expects a few of them to be built before the end of the year.
BrightFarms grew out of New York Sun Works (WYSW), a non-profit organization set up in 2006 by environmental engineer and urban farming visionary Dr. Ted Caplow. Its mission was to design and promote ecologically responsible systems for the production of energy, water and food in the urban environment. In 2007 NYSW launched the renowned Science Barge, prototype urban farm.
Last month, BrightFarms announced the completion of another round of financing through private investors, however it did not disclose the amount of money raised. (Source: GreenRetailDecisions)