Whole Foods Taps Brooklyn's Gotham Greens for Rooftop Farm

Although Greenpoint, Brooklyn, isn't known as a hotbed for sustainable agriculture, that's not stopping Gotham Greens from making a name for themselves. Using renewable energy sources to power their sterile greenhouses, Gotham Greens set up shop on the Greenpoint Wood Exchange rooftop a few years back with the goal of providing fresh, high-quality produce and herbs to local markets and restaurants.

Founders Viraj Puri and Eric Haley teamed with greenhouse expert Jenn Nelkin to develop the facility and protocols needed to grow year-round in New York City. Utilizing a combination of recirculating hydroponics and climate control systems, Gotham Greens has been harvesting bounties of lettuce, basil, chard, tomatoes, bok choy, and myriad other delights since 2011 -- and in quantities 20-30 times greater per acre than their field-based counterparts while using 20 times less water and producing no agricultural run-off.

Gotham Greens isn't the only savvy greenhouse farm on the proverbial block -- Will Allen's Milwaukee-based Growing Power also does amazing work. Still, Whole Foods Market was impressed enough with Gotham Greens to partner with the rooftop farmers on their new site in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The 20,000 square foot retail store and rooftop greenhouse is slated to open this Fall providing shoppers with access to truly local, sustainably grown produce. The partnership slashes the food miles and associate carbon footprint that normally comes with shipping food long distances from growers in California and Mexico. As Puri noted, "This project takes the discussion from food miles to food footsteps."

Christina Minardi, WFM Northeast Regional President, added, “We’re particularly excited to partner with a local organization with roots right here in Brooklyn and a mission in line with our own, in that we both care deeply about providing local, fresh and sustainably produced food.”

Gotham Greens from Dark Rye on VimeoGotham Greens is the first commercial-scale rooftop hydroponic greenhouse in the world. By going vertical in the city, Gotham Greens is using less water, eliminating pesticides, putting an end to fertilizer runoff, and leading the way to a sustainable agriculture future in the sky.

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