The latest urban farm in New York City is sprouting atop a factory near the Long Island Rail Road in Hollis.
Gotham Greens opened this week its new 60,000-square-foot facility inside a former warehouse at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 185th Street, featuring a rooftop greenhouse where herbs and leafy greens are on the grow.
The new venture nearly triples the production of produce for Gotham Greens, which began in 2009 atop a warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Seven years later, Gotham Greens produce is grown from three rooftop gardens in New York City and another in Chicago; their harvest is sold in retail markets and to restaurants in both cities.
The company’s expansion into Hollis was touted by Governor Andrew Cuomo in a Feb. 2 press release. He noted that Gotham Greens received $1 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority toward the project and other efforts to make the company’s New York greenhouses more energy efficient through the installation of high-efficiency lighting, cooling and crop production systems.
Gotham Greens is also receiving Excelsior Jobs Program Tax Credits to create and sustain no fewer than 46 full-time jobs through 2024. Many of the new employees are from Hollis and surrounding communities, according to Gotham Greens spokesperson Nicole Baum.
“Gotham Greens’ expansion into Queens is creating jobs and offering New Yorkers greater access to healthy, locally grown produce,” Cuomo said. “By partnering with local businesses that utilize energy-saving practices, we are helping them expand their operations while growing the economy and building a sustainable future for New Yorkers.”
“Opening this new state-of-the-art greenhouse facility in the middle of winter underscores the innovative story of Gotham Greens,” added Gotham Greens CEO Viraj Puri. “Never before have consumers in our marketplace been able to get locally grown produce this fresh at this time of year. After the recent record-breaking blizzard, our freshly harvested produce was on supermarket shelves the very next day.”
The Hollis greenhouse, which is set to year-round summer conditions ideal for growth, will hydroponically farm various leafy greens including many different types of lettuce as well as arugula and bok choy. Hydroponic farming yields up to 30 times more produce than traditional farming methods; a head of lettuce can fully grow within 30 to 40 days, depending on its variety, Baum said.
The company prides itself on being able to quickly harvest and distribute leafy greens to local markets and restaurants the same day.
“They’re the things that traditionally travel the furthest and are not locally available in the winter months,” Baum said, pointing out that during New York winters, most basil is imported from Mexico or Israel. Lettuce produced and packaged from California is a week old by the time it reaches the New York market, she noted.
“A product harvested that morning” from Gotham Greens “you might find on a local supermarket shelf or in a local restaurant by the end of that day,” Baum said. “Our whole model is to harvest in the morning so it can be on your plate by the afternoon.”