Whole Foods is using the rooftop of its new Brooklyn, New York store to make the dreams of locavores everywhere come true. It’s building a massive, 20,000-square-foot greenhouse on top of the new store to provide incredibly fresh produce grown, pesticide-free, with an innovative hydroponic system.
The upscale grocery chain is partnering with Gotham Greens, an urban farm company based in Brooklyn, on the project, the first commercial-scale greenhouse farm integrated with retail in the United States. Imagine, tomatoes, grown in the middle of a New York winter, picked from the vine and on the shelves in 20 minutes.
Talk about a closed-loop food chain.
"This project takes the discussion from food miles to food footsteps,” said Viraj Puri, Gotham Greens co-founder, in a statement. “Our greenhouse will provide Whole Foods Market shoppers with access to the freshest, most delicious leafy greens, herbs and tomatoes, year-round that will be grown right above the store’s produce department."
Not only is this a smart move by Whole Foods because it provides customers with ultra-fresh produce (and boosts its sustainability cred), but it makes sense economically, Ariel Schwartz reports at Fast Company:
Gotham Greens is paying to build the greenhouse, and the grocery chain will simply buy the pesticide-free produce as they would from any other farm. If Whole Foods decides that it can’t handle all the vegetables emerging from the greenhouse, Gotham Greens can sell the excess produce to other clients.
And if all goes well with this experiment, it's a model that could be used in future stores.
Image: Whole Foods