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Start-up produce supplier BrightFarms will make its first produce shipment from its greenhouse in Rochelle, Ill., to Mariano’s Fresh Market stores in the Chicago area, and Pick ‘n Save and Metro Market stores in Wisconsin on July 15.
BrightFarms’ Chicago-area greenhouse is expected to grow more than 1 million pounds of salad greens, herbs and tomatoes per year exclusively for Roundy's Supermarkets Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Kroger Co. that operates the Mariano’s, Pick ‘n Save and Metro Market banners.
Designed to be a model for the future of local, low-impact farming, the BrightFarms Chicagoland Greenhouse claims to be the most productive farm in the Chicago-area market, the most sustainable source of year-round baby greens and tomatoes in Illinois, and among the most productive salad greens farms, per square foot, in the world. It creates permanent green collar jobs, significantly reduces food miles and improves the environmental impact of the food supply chain, the company asserted.
"Consumers want access to fresh, local produce year-round and we, along with Roundy's, are working tirelessly to meet this demand in the Chicagoland market," said BrightFarms Chief BrightFarmer (CEO) Paul Lightfoot. "Produce from our Chicagoland Greenhouse is delivered within 24 hours of harvest and often grown less than 100 miles from where it's sold. That’s a 98 percent improvement from the thousands of miles produce usually must travel to reach supermarket shelves."
Pitched as “a cutting-edge, scalable solution to Americans' increasing demand for local and sustainable food,” the 160,000-square-foot greenhouse uses 80 percent less water, 90 percent less land and “significantly” less energy to grow its products than the items it replaces on supermarket shelves. All produce is non-GMO and pesticide-free.
"We're thrilled that we can offer customers access to fresh lettuces, tomatoes and herbs within 24 hours of harvest," said Bob Mariano, Roundy’s president and CEO. "Together with BrightFarms, we're working to improve the food supply chain -- a win for the environment and a big step in the right direction."
New York-based BrightFarms grows local produce nationwide by financing building and operating local greenhouse farms in partnership with supermarkets, cities, capital sources and vendors, to eliminate time, distance and cost from the food supply chain.