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BrightFarms CEO Paul Lightfoot Wants To Grow Lettuce On Your Roof

If you're a grocery store, BrightFarms thinks your roof would make a fantastic location for a hydroponic greenhouse.

The company designs, finances, builds, and manages rooftop greenhouses for food retailers—to the tune of up to $2 million a pop—in return for a long-term contract to purchase the output. CEO Paul Lightfoot says it's his mission to reduce transportation and storage costs and provide fresher, healthier produce to consumers. The company says its hydroponic greenhouses—which typically produce lettuces and leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers—can grow food with none of the land and 95% less water used in traditional crops, with no chemical pesticides and a drastically reduced carbon footprint. 

"The current produce supply chain is broken," Lightfoot says. "We have produce that's not fresh, it's not safe to eat in many cases, it doesn't taste good, it doesn't last long, and it lacks nutrition."

If you're buying a head of lettuce in a New York supermarket, about half of the cost is going to have it transported from some far-off field on a carbon-spewing refrigerated truck. Because it's been in transit, it wilts more quickly both on the shelf and in your fridge. The same concept goes for nearly any perishable vegetable or fruit.

"I'm bringing an opportunity to retailers and consumers of the U.S. to have fresher, longer-lasting, more nutritious and tastier produce, improving the health of our society," says Lightfoot. "And with a lower environmental impact, improving the health of the planet as well."

Click through on the video below to see Lightfoot talk about BrightFarms's mission.

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[Image via Elegran]

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  • Saill

    I love this! I'm working for a start-up ( that could make very good use of this in the near future, I think. We delivery fresh and healthy breakfast and lunch bags to office workers every day. We are trying to source as much locally, seasonally and organically as we can. A rooftop garden would be perfect! Can you give me a sense of the cost and output of a BrightFarms greenhouse?

  • willliam

    I love this.  As the world ramps to 9 billion people we increasingly cannibalize our own arable land.  In addition to the arguments for freshness, taste, quality, and carbon-footprint offsetting, I think a point needs to be made about food security in a crowded world.  Just look at the (relatively minor) disruptions to just-in-time delivery of goods that was caused by Eyjafjallajokull in 2010.  Or the heated debate about biofuel solutions which pit food-crop land against energy-crop land.  Making elegant and intelligent use of otherwise wasted space just makes so much sense.  Period.


  • David Kaiser, PhD

    Love it, plus it reconnects eating with growing. Having "the farm" nearby keeps us grounded, the food is no longer just coming from "out there somewhere."

    Great business model to share the risk. I like it. Very innovative. Paul Lightfoot, if you want an Executive Coach, call me, you are my kind of client!

    David Kaiser, PhD
    Executive Coach & CEO

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