Imagine getting supermarket tomatoes with homegrown flavor all year long. That’s exactly what Schnucks Markets has in mind as it teams up with New York-based BrightFarms to build a $2 million hydroponic greenhouse. The greenhouse, designed and financed by BrightFarms and operated by a local farmer, will provide the St. Louis-based supermarket chain with fresh, local tomatoes, lettuces and herbs year-round.
With the produce closer to store shelves, it stays in the ground longer before being harvested, resulting in more nutrition and flavor. It also significantly lowers the gas consumption needed to transport the produce, thus reducing Schnucks’ carbon footprint. Hydroponic greenhouses use less land, water and fewer pesticides than traditional farming methods, as well—an environmental grand slam. BrightFarms is currently scouting possible sites for the greenhouse, from rooftops to empty lots, with an estimated size of one to four acres. Each acre will produce 500,000 pounds of produce per year.