By Sadef Ali Kully
Gotham Greens, an urban-agriculture pioneer and producer of greenhouse-grown vegetables and herbs, opened its first 60,000-square-foot greenhouse facility last week on Jamaica Avenue in Hollis.
The Brooklyn-based company, which employs more than 120 people, operates rooftop greenhouses across four facilities in both the city and Chicago. It has also received the 2015 Martha Stewart’s “American Made” award.
The company’s pesticide-free produce is grown using ecologically sustainable methods in 100 percent clean energy-powered urban rooftop greenhouses. It sells produce to retail, restaurant and institutional customers.
“We grow our herbs and vegetables using hydroponics,” Gotham Greens spokeswoman Nicole Baum said. “There is no soil involved—all the nutrients found in the soil are in the water. We also recycle our water. It is a 100 percent renewable facility.”
Hydroponics is a gardening method of growing plants in water infused with nutrients from soil rather than growing them directly in soil. According to the Gotham Greens, its growing methods yield up to 30 times more crop per acre than are achieved through conventional agriculture.
Baum said Gotham Greens facilities are unique because the vegetables and herbs are available year round. The Gotham Greens greenhouse is located 184-60 Jamaica Ave.
“You don’t have to buy basil from Israel during the winter—you can get lettuce from Queens,” she said.
Baum said the vegetables and herbs are available in local supermarkets from Key Food to Shop Rite, as well as from the online grocer Fresh Direct.
“We introduced something new, Queens Crisp greens. It’s really delicious and crispy, similar to frisée but without the bitterness,” Baum said.
The state Energy Research and Development Authority provided $1 million in funds towards the project to expand the greenhouse as part of the state initiative to reduce energy use in buildings by 23 percent by 2030.
New York State Empire State Development additionally provided Gotham Greens with $152,000 in tax credits to create and sustain a minimum of 46 full-time jobs through 2024.
Gotham Greens said it currently has 40 full-time employees and expects to exceed 50 in the next few months.
The company said its massive new facility will nearly triple the amount of local produce it can offer to tri-state area consumers.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull