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Salad days

High tech urban greenhouse facility in Olneyville slated for ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 5

Photo by Richard Asinof

Inch by inch, row by row, the seedlings at the Gotham Greens facility in Olneyville are growing.

Photo by Richard Asinof

The Gotham Greens facility appears to maintain a constant growing season year round.

Photo by Richard Asinof

Culled detritus from basil and lettuce plants are deposited in a large waste contained, allegedly bound to a commercial composting operation.

Photo by Richard Asinof

The new Gotham Greens high-tech greenhouse in Olneyville.

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By Richard Asinof
Posted 12/1/19
The new Gotham Greens growing facility will host an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 5.

What are the current store locations in New England where lettuce and basil being harvested at the new Gotham Greens facility are being sold? What are the price points for a container of greens? What is the commercial composting facility where the detritus of the Gotham Greens operation are being transported? What is the average hourly wage paid to an employee?
One of the big questions facing Gotham Greens and its business model, looking at its long-term sustainability, is this: what is the potential that the facility might be converted to growing marijuana if the recreational use of marijuana is legalized in Rhode Island?

PROVIDENCE – It was the Saturday before the grand ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 5, at the new Gotham Greens growing facility in Olneyville, a new high tech urban farming venture which is projected to produce some 10 million heads of lettuce and greens a year.

And, all around the gleaming, new $12.5 million, 11,000-square-foot greenhouse, there were signs of stirrings, a beehive of activity, as preparations appeared underway for the official ribbon cutting.

Providence is the site of the Gotham Green’s latest expansion. The other Gotham Greens urban growing farms are located at three New York City sites [two in Brooklyn, one in Queens] and a fourth site in Chicago.

As reported in an earlier story this year by ConvergenceRI: “The Gotham Greens website offered tantalizing descriptions of its lettuce, much as if the flavor of fine wines were being described: ‘Soft and buttery-textured, our butterhead leaves are sweet and succulent. This delicacy of lettuces is terrific in salads and sandwiches. Also known as Boston or Bibb, this delicate, tender lettuce is an excellent source of potassium. Simply delicious.’”
[See link below to ConvergenceRI story, “Let them eat lettuce.”

Given the weather reports of an impending winter storm, ConvergenceRI decided to take advantage of the bright sunshine on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 30, to visit the site in advance of the ribbon cutting.

Peering into the facility through clear envelope, misted with condensation, that encased the facility, ConvergenceRI saw an abundance of new seedlings as well as what appeared to be fully mature plants, ready to harvest [see first image above.]

Outside the facility, a front loader was depositing buckets of plant "waste," taken from both lettuce and basil plants, which had been culled from the plants, into a large waste container, labeled as belonging to Waste Management Inc. [See third image above.]

As the driver of the front loader explained to ConvergenceRI, the culled materials from the greenhouse plants were going to be used as compost material by a commercial composting firm. Despite the cold, brisk weather, an aroma of fresh basil lingered outside the facility.

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