BrightFarms, which has been pioneering on building greenhouses attached to supermarkets, has signed its biggest deal yet.
It is building a massive 100,000 square foot greenhouse – the world’s largest urban greenhouse – that will deliver about a million pounds of fresh produce throughout the year to about 30 Giant supermarkets in the Washington, DC metro area.
BrightFarms, which also operates its greenhouses, expects it to be open this fall. It plans to open the greenhouse to schools as an educational tool on urban agriculture and sustainability.
This is the latest of a string of successful partnerships with supermarkets. Marsh Supermarkets recently signed on for a greenhouse in Indianapolis that will serve 97 stores in Indiana and Ohio.
Other greenhouses being built this year are in St. Louis, the St. Paul-Minneapolis area and Oklahoma City, and another in Kansas City, Missouri is under development.
The company also designs rooftop farms, like the 10,000 square feet farm that tops an affordable rental building in the Bronx. It runs on the building’s waste heat and water harvested on the roof, and provides fresh vegies to about 4500 low-income residents that otherwise wouldn’t have access to fresh food.
BrightFarms uses the same model that’s worked so well for solar (leasing instead of owning solar systems). It takes complete responsibility for its greenhouses and rooftop farms – financing, building, and operating them. Supermarkets sign on to a long-term purchase agreement that gives them fixed, reliable prices with minimum volume commitments.
In January, they raised another announced $4.9 million, after raising $4.3 million when it launched in 2011.
Read our article, Urban Farming Takes Hold in NYC.