How One Brooklyn Rooftop is Changing the Produce Market

How One Brooklyn Rooftop is Changing the Produce Market

Farming and growing food normally takes a lot of space and resources.

But Gotham Greens has developed a way to use technology to improve the process and grow food more efficiently. In fact, it grows all of its produce on one rooftop in Brooklyn, located over a Whole Foods store.

Viraj Puri, co-founder and CEO of Gotham Greens told CNN:

“The idea is you can produce really high quality, fresh, nutritious greens, tomatoes, herbs and provide that to customers within a day of harvest.”

The food grown at Gotham Greens is sold right at the Whole Foods below it. So it eliminates the transportation costs normally associated with getting food from farms to stores. It also ensures produce that is fresher than what is sold in most traditional supermarkets, since it cuts down on the time between harvest and sale.

Produce normally travels about 1,500 miles from farm to table. So the process used at Gotham Greens cuts down on the travel involved in getting food to customers. But even without the travel costs, produce from Gotham Greens isn’t cheap.

Its basil costs about $3 more per ounce than basil from conventional farms. That high cost is thanks to city real estate, labor costs, and the advanced greenhouse technology Gotham Greens uses.

Puri claims that technology allows Gotham Greens to produce about 20 times more than conventional farms. So if the company has a 1-acre greenhouse, it could produce as much as a 20-acre farm.

To achieve that level of productivity, the greenhouse uses sensors to measure different factors such as temperature, humidity, light levels, and carbon dioxide. The sensors transmit that data to computers that determine the optimal growing conditions for each plant and shut down or start up different equipment to create those conditions.

The cost is certainly prohibitive to many customers. And Puri says he doesn’t think the methods used at Gotham Greens necessarily represent the future of farming.

Things like root vegetables and meat are better suited for larger farm settings. But the technology and idea of growing food right where it is sold could definitely make an impact on the produce market.

Image: Gotham Greens

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