WILMINGTON — After a fall groundbreaking, BrightFarms Inc. is constructing its first greenhouse farm in Ohio on Davids Drive in Wilmington.
The 120,000 square-foot greenhouse will provide locally grown salad greens and herbs to supermarkets in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus metro areas. With greenhouse farms already outside of Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, the Wilmington farm will be the fourth greenhouse for the company.
As consumer demand for local produce has increased, BrightFarms is playing a role for retailers that have struggled to source locally year-round.
“We have seen demand for our salad greens climb sharply as the market for local has grown,” said Paul Lightfoot, BrightFarms CEO.
“The salad greens on shelf in supermarkets are grown on the West Coast and typically spend up to a week in transit to the Midwest. Growing inside of a greenhouse allows us to supply Ohio supermarkets with local produce on a year-round basis,” Lightfoot added.
During the announcement event held in March at Wilmington College, Lightfoot said employees will receive a living wage starting their first hour. The potential market for the “fresher, tastier and more sustainable produce” to be grown there is comprised of nearly 6 million people within a two-hour drive, he said.
The Food Marketing Institute’s 2017 Power of Produce report listed both organic and local as two of the largest trends in fresh foods, but noted that consumers have a significant preference for local, stated a BrightFarms media release.
The company stated in its release that it’s proud to note that its Wilmington facility will be creating 30 permanent “green-collar” jobs for residents, each paying a living wage and offering health benefits.
“I’m excited to begin hiring new employees who will help us grow the freshest local produce for the community,” said Nick Chaney, head grower for BrightFarms and an Ohio native.
“We’ll be training employees to operate the latest greenhouse farming technology,” he said.
Consumers will be able to choose from a variety of popular packaged salad greens including spring mix, spinach, baby kale, romaine and arugula.
The company will also be focused on developing new products outside of its existing lineup.
“We’ll have the ability to grow and test new salad greens for the Ohio market that consumers have never tried before,” said Chaney.
“Because we’re growing locally and delivering to customers within 24 hours of harvest, we can grow more tender varieties that taste better,” Chaney said.
All of the company’s salad greens are pesticide free and are certified Non-GMO.
BrightFarms estimates its Wilmington greenhouse will use 80 percent less water, 90 percent less land and 90 percent less shipping fuel when compared to salad farms located in California or Arizona.
BrightFarms finances, builds and operates local greenhouse farms in partnership with supermarkets, cities, capital sources, and vendors, enabling it to quickly and efficiently eliminate time, distance, and costs from the food supply chain, according to the media release.
Fast Company recognizes BrightFarms as “One of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” and one of the “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Food” in the world.
Most recently, BrightFarms was listed as number 235 on Inc. Magazine’s list of the fastest growing private companies in America.
For more information, please visit www.brightfarms.com .