Gotham Greens opens its largest greenhouse in Chicago, doubling Midwest supply of leafy greens

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Gotham Greens
Photo: Gotham Greens

Related tags: Gotham Greens, greenhouse farming, hydroponics

Keeping up with demand for locally-grown produce, Gotham Greens has opened its largest greenhouse in Chicago, which will more than double the company's Midwest supply to 11 million heads of lettuce annually.

Gotham Greens began its urban greenhouse operations in 2011 with a hydroponic facility in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and now provides local produce including lettuce, tomatoes, and basil to 238 retailers in New York City. The company opened its first Chicago facility in 2015 and has since expanded its distribution to hundreds of retailers in the Chicagoland area including Whole Foods Market, Jewel-Osco, Target, Heinen's Grocery Store, Sunset Foods, Pete's Fresh Market, and Peapod.

Last year, Gotham Greens closed a $29m funding round​, which was put towards fueling the company's expansion and introduce more tech-driven food production techniques in the realm of data science and machine learning at its urban, indoor greenhouses.

The new 100,000-square-foot climate controlled hydroponic greenhouse is located in Chicago's south side Pullman neighborhood. Gotham Greens will also increase its workforce to 100 full-time employees in Chicago and 300 employees nationwide.  The company currently operates six greenhouses in New York City and Chicago and will open new locations in Providence, Baltimore, and Denver, Colorado.

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“We have received tremendous support from retailers, restaurants and shoppers alike who love that we can provide a reliable, year-round supply of fresh produce that’s grown locally,"​ said Viraj Puri, co-founder & CEO of Gotham Greens.

Consumer interest in fresh food, particularly produce, has never been stronger, according to a recent report by Deloitte​ which found that more than 60% of consumers spend up to 30% of their average monthly grocery budget on fresh food. Over half (58%) of consumers actively consider sustainability aspects such as local sourcing, recyclable packaging, and water neutrality, while purchasing perishables.

How Gotham Greens is disrupting the produce supply chain 

"Most consumers don’t realize it but the majority of packaged salads coming from California and Arizona are contract farmed and co-packed. This means that one package of these salads, may contain leaves grown on multiple farms,"​ Puri previously told FoodNavigator-USA.

"At Gotham Greens, we’re disrupting the traditional supply chain by building a network of regional urban greenhouses across the country. When customers buy a package of our salads or herbs, they know exactly where the produce is coming from and how it’s been grown.

"With climate change, labor issues, food safety scares, rising transportation costs, and growing consumer interest in locally grown food, I believe we’ll continue to see a growing demand from consumers for greater traceability and sustainability along the supply chain."

Data-driven greenhouses

While Gotham Greens has been exploring other types of crops to grow hydroponically, the focus of its Chicago greenhouses will remain on leafy greens and herbs, according to Puri. 

Gotham Greens' produce is grown using hydroponic systems in 100% renewable electricity-powered greenhouses that use 95% less water and 97% less land than conventional farming.

The new greenhouse features the company's latest technological advances, including proprietary data-driven control tools to develop the highest-yielding, most efficient production systems on the market today. This highly automated, climate-controlled facility uses less energy than other indoor farming techniques applied commercially today and is 50% more efficient than its existing facilities.

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