Grocers Go ‘Ultra Local’ with Rooftop Gardens
It’s about as local as you can get with produce — growing fruits and vegetables right on the roof of a store. That’s the idea being put forth by a firm called BrightFarms that designs, builds and operates hydroponic greenhouse farms on retailers’ rooftops.
“We call this ultra-local,” Paul Lightfoot, CEO of BrightFarms, told The Packer.
Crops can be grown year-round in rooftop greenhouses and are only harvested when it’s time to take them downstairs for sale. Using the rooftop method, retailers cut down on shipping costs and reduce shrink. Grocers working with BrightFarms pay nothing for the construction of the greenhouses. BrightFarms makes its money by signing long-term deals with the grocers to buy the produce grown on their rooftops.
According to a Springwise report, BrightFarms has signed letters of intent with 10 supermarkets, including five of the top 50 in the U.S. Most of the deals are with grocers on the East Coast.
Benjamin Linsley, a co-founder and the vice president of business development and public affairs at BrightFarms, told edible Manhattan, that modern farming methods require that produce is grown to be tougher to deal with long journeys. The downside is that it loses taste in the process.
According to the company, a typical one-acre greenhouse can grow up to 500,000 pounds of produce a year, generating between $1 million and $1.5 million in revenue.
- About – BrightFarms
- Rooftop local produce, coming soon to a supermarket near you – SmartPlanet
- Hyper Local Produce: This Manhattan Company Wants Supermarkets to Raise on the Roof – edible Manhattan
- Service finances, builds and operates rooftop farms for grocers – Springwise
- BrightFarms to grow greenhouse vegetables on retail roofs – The Packer
Discussion Questions: Is the time right for grocers to open rooftop gardens? What are the potential repercussions for the food industry if large numbers of retailers adopt this method of sourcing produce?