This unsightly, trash-filled property will become hydroponic greenhouses in Washington D.C. Unlike food grown in many contaminated urban community gardens, the fresh produce from these greenhouses will be "lead-free" veggies for sure.
The rooftop greenhouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn (my birthplace) has not worked out so far but that has not stopped BrightFarms. This project in Washington D.C. looks like a winner in every way.
I am really enjoying monitoring the projects of BrightFarms, Gotham Greens, Lufa Farms and others. The jury is still out on whether or not these controlled environment agriculture projects are profitably sustainable.
There are some talented and farsighted men and women betting their futures on it. I am rooting for them, that is for sure.
It looks like a war zone, not the future of sustainable farming.
Two 20-foot-tall piles of razed rubble, twisted metal, and warped wood are the backdrops. A gnarled bicycle and dozens of unmatched shoes nearly hidden by overgrown prairie grass and weeds litter the ground between three large, white shipping containers that belong more on a freighter than in a city lot on the edge of Washington's southeastern border.
"It's bringing a farm to the part of the city that really hasn't experienced that before."
But in a few months, this abandoned lot in the Anacostia neighborhood of the capital city will become home to the world's largest urban greenhouse, eventually producing tons of produce, creating dozens of new jobs, and providing fresh food to areas in need.
The 100,000-square-foot greenhouse (close to 2.3 acres) will produce 1 million pounds of produce—including tomatoes on the vine, leafy-green mixes, and a variety of herbs—for 30 Giant grocery stores in the greater D.C. area. It's being funded by New York-based BrightFarms, which builds and runs greenhouses and rooftop farms that then sell produce to local grocery chains.
So far, BrightFarms either has built or plans to build greenhouses and rooftop farms in New York, Chicago, St. Paul, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. Their first greenhouse—a 56,000-square-footer—is in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.