If your grocer were to offer you fresher and better tasting produce at fractions of the cost you’d normally pay, would you love the concept? Of course, you would. No American wants to pay more than they have to for fresh tasting, delicious foods. The fact that it’s healthy is an added bonus. BrightFarms not only hears consumers, they understand them. They also understand the pains that their urban grocers are going through. The painstaking time of waiting days for “fresh” foods are over. BrightFarms efforts of urban farming have grown since 2006 and change the way we eat as a society.
Reduces Time, Distance, and Cost of Delivering Fresh Foods
When it comes to meeting their sustainability efforts, BrightFarms is doing so in surprising ways. They are committed to proving urban populations with fresh foods at fractions of the time. BrightFarms has greenhouses across the country, which is between a half a mile to 50 miles from their contracted grocery stores.
So now, urban areas such as Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, and DC are receiving millions of produce a year, in a matter of minutes and hours, not days. Not having a complicated supply chain reduces the total time, distance, and cost of delivering fresh foods. They are also seeking to build more 43,000 to 100,000 square feet of greenhouses near these urban areas.
Growing and delivering 500,000 lbs. of healthy and fresh produce a year; you would assume BrightFarms has a high energy, water, and land usage. This is contrary to the case, though. BrightFarms builds their greenhouses on top of grocery stores so there is zero land usage. Their hydroponic technology enables 100% renewable energy in the greenhouses.
BrightFarms is committed to the environment, saving close to 740 tons of CO2 emissions per year, since they are not placing hundreds of trucks on the road. They do not use pesticides, eliminating the 430 lbs. of pesticides normally used for produce growth. And, they are using 95% less water than on a farm – a savings of 5 million gallons of water annually. Their greenhouse designs capture the rainwater, which almost is enough to sustain the plants.
Safe and Organic Foods for Consumers
Fresh food is available year round for consumers. Produce is available in just hours from picking to purchasing. Now, BrightFarms does not consider their product organic or non-organic. What they do acknowledge is that there are no pesticides used to protect their plants. This means that combined with no land usage, this type of agricultural farming eliminates harmful erosion to our bodies of water. And their organic foods are grown locally, not imported from Mexico or other distant farms.
Greater Profits for Local Grocers
BrightFarms is more than concerned about their own revenue. They make it affordable for major supermarket chains andsmall local individual stores to come participate. They do not pay any of the upfront $1.5 – 2 million in costs to design and build these greenhouses. Imagine the grocer’s savings as their food has an increased shelf life. A few of BrightFarms grocer partners include:
- Cub Foods
- Super Fresh, and more
Giving the People What They Want
BrightFarms has found a way to give the people what they want. According to the USDA, between 1994 and 2013 the number of farmers markets in the US has more than quadrupled, from 1,755 to 8,144. Consumers want locally grown produce. They enjoy engaging with the producers and learning all there is to know about the foods they consume.
BrightFarms gives consistency to consumers. The produce they have seen available in January is also available in July. The food is always fresh and there is never any question of what they are consuming. Consumers see the product on the shelf and know where it comes from. That level of trust is important to consumers.
Meeting their Corporate, Social and Sustainability Goals
Speaking of trust, many would like to know what a company building more commercial-scale greenhouses has up their sleeves. Well, for starters, BrightFarms is looking out for the community as a whole. Just one BrightFarms greenhouse on one acre will generate $1-$1.5 million in revenue per year and an estimate of 8-16 new local farm jobs. This keeps money in the community. They are providing more than minimum wage, a safe work environment, and health insurance to their employees.
In this interview with Benjamin Linsley, VP of Business Development, and Public Affairs for BrightFarms, he addresses how different BrightFarms is from other urban agriculture projects. The local projects are providing healthy food; yet, are unable to grow the capacity of food that BrightFarms can. BrightFarms is not taking away from that credibility.
Who would have thought that in 2006 the non-profit Sun Works, whose vision of bringing sustainability education and building greenhouses at schools would stem this great for profit – BrightFarms. BrightFarms is not stopping, as they have recently secured $4.9 million in Series B financing from venture partners and their own founder, Ted Caplow. This financing will help meet the growing demand for locally grown produce. Ted’s vision of sustainability has gone beyond what he could even imagine.
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