WILMINGTON — A large hyrdoponics greenhouse farm has been proposed in the city, and would create 30 year-round green-collar jobs.
The company interested in locating a commercial greenhouse in Wilmington is BrightFarms. BrightFarms already operates three greenhouses sited for short transports of fresh produce to the Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Chicago metropolitan areas.
The site layout diagram filed with the City of Wilmington Building & Zoning Department shows a 172,711 square-foot greenhouse on Davids Drive. According to the diagram, lettuce and tomatoes would be grown in the facility.
The site is owned by the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) of Wilmington, which is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to promote economic development and job creation.
CIC of Wilmington Executive Director David Raizk said he is very excited about the project. He noted the greenhouse would utilize hydroponics to grow vegetables in a farm-to-grocer operation.
The greenhouse farm would sit on the west side of Davids Drive and adjoin the Wilmington College Academic Farm property, said Raizk.
BrightFarms’ website states, “Our greenhouses allow year round growing and harvesting in a controlled environment, greater control of our growing climate, and greater control of pests and disease. By growing the crops in a soilless medium, we can add the optimal amount and mixture of nutrients that each specific crop requires.”
The design of the hydroponic systems allows for water re-circulation, adds the website.
This past September, BrightFarms announced it had raised $30 million in Series C funding, the largest U.S.-based controlled environment agriculture investment round on record, according to an online report in AgFunder News.
As mentioned above, BrightFarms selects sites for its greenhouses where it will have proximity to densely populated urban areas. A Wilmington location would provide quick access to the Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton markets.
The Clinton County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) has recommended a conditional-use permit be approved by the City of Wilmington Board of Zoning Appeals. The Davids Drive site is zoned industrial.
In a Feb. 28 letter, CCRPC Executive Director Taylor Stuckert stated BrightFarms has satisfied all requirements in the industrial-zoned district, and wrote the proposed development also does not conflict with the adopted 2015 Wilmington Comprehensive Plan.
The parcel being considered is part of the Wilmington Enterprise Zone, and thus is eligible for a 75 percent tax abatement on new construction, with approval from Wilmington City Council, stated Raizk in a September 2016 document.
BrightFarms employs an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to control insects. This program uses insects like Ladybugs to control problem insects like Whitefly, Aphid, Spidermite and Leafminer, according to the company’s website.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.