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.