If your mental image of urban agriculture is of a food plot or garden between city buildings, you won’t recognize Gotham Greens, the high-tech agribusiness model now coming to metro Baltimore, Md. This rapidly growing ag tech startup, headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y., will open its fifth state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse at an old steel mill site at Sparrows Point in southeast Baltimore.
The initial 100,000-square-foot greenhouse facility is expected to bring fresh branded competition to produce growers serving the Mid-Atlantic region by early 2019. The deal was announced recently by Tradepoint Atlantic, which operates the port logistical center. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan noted that Tradepoint's location provides a competitive advantage for fresh food businesses to reach a significant Mid-Atlantic customer base.
Gotham Greens’ expansion to Baltimore makes it the third city in its network of high-tech urban greenhouses, after New York and Chicago. The facility will create more than 60 full-time jobs and bring a reliable, year-round, local supply of fresh produce to serve retail, restaurant and food service customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic, says Viraj Puri, the company’s CEO and co-founder. The company, reportedly, has an additional 500,000 square feet of greenhouse under development in four U.S. states.
Up to this point, Gotham Greens main production menu has been lettuce varieties, arugula, basil and vine-ripened cherry tomatoes. The climate-controlled farm will be powered by 100% renewable electricity and recycled irrigation water.
Puri says that the proprietary methods yield more than 30 times that of conventional farms, with higher levels of food safety and environmental sustainability. Gotham’s other greenhouses feature solar photo voltaic panels, LED lighting, passive ventilation and thermal curtains.
Gotham’s flagship greenhouse, built in Brooklyn in 2011, was the first commercial scale urban greenhouse of its kind in the country. After opening new locations in New York, the company expanded to Chicago in 2015 by building the world’s largest rooftop farm. Once the Baltimore facility opens, Gotham Greens will own and operate 500,000 square-feet of advanced greenhouses across eight facilities in five states.
“We’re honored and humbled to join the rich heritage of Maryland farmers, growers and food producers,” Puri says. “Urban agriculture, at its core, is about reconnecting with the community through food, jobs and economic development. To that end, we’ve found a great partner and are proud to be part of the American industrial turnaround story taking place at Tradepoint Atlantic.”