BrightFarms, a grower of locally grown salads for supermarkets, has broken ground on a new 280,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse in Henderson County. Once complete, the facility will be the largest greenhouse for leafy greens in the state.
By growing produce close to its consumers, BrightFarms delivers its local, pesticide-free baby greens to supermarkets in as little as 24 hours from harvest, about a week faster than leafy greens grown on the West Coast. The Henderson County greenhouse will ship more than 2 million pounds of fresh leafy greens to North Carolina supermarkets each year. As consumer demand for local produced has increased, BrightFarms has played a key role for national retailers that are looking to source from farms closer to their stores.
BrightFarms will invest $21 million into construction of the greenhouse, which is expected to create up to 100 construction jobs among local suppliers. When the project is completed in early 2021, BrightFarms will hire 54 “green-collar” employees that will receive competitive pay and industry-leading benefits.
The new greenhouse will add to BrightFarms’ network of local, sustainable greenhouse farms; serving local markets including Charlotte, NC; Winston-Salem, NC; Greenville, SC; Spartanburg, SC; and Atlanta, GA. Existing farms already in operation are in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois.
Agribusiness Henderson County (AgHC), a public-private ag economic development partnership, assisted BrightFarms in selecting its site and supports ongoing needs for the project. AgHC Executive Director, Mark Williams shared, “I’ve worked with BrightFarms’ extraordinary team since they reached out in August 2018. It was obvious from the start that this was a top-notch company and a perfect fit for our area, where we are focused on expanding high-quality, sustainable agribusiness and have a perfect growing climate for greenhouse production.”
“With construction started, we’re less than a year away from supplying North Carolina’s supermarkets with the freshest and most responsibly grown local produce.” said Steve Platt, BrightFarms CEO. “We’re thrilled to be planting our roots in Hendersonville, a community that has embraced our project from the very beginning. We’re grateful for the support we’ve received from Governor Cooper, Mark Williams of AgHC, the Henderson County government, and the team at Conserving Carolina.”
Development of the new facility also drew attention from the state’s Department of Agriculture. “I am pleased that North Carolina’s agriculture and agribusiness industry continues to attract new investment such as BrightFarms hydroponic greenhouse operation. This announcement is certainly a bright spot for the state in 2020 and brings much-welcomed jobs for the Hendersonville area,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “I welcome them to the ag family and I hope this signals the start of even more growth for our state’s leading industry as we continue to work to become a $100 billion industry.”
“I applaud Agribusiness Henderson County for its continued ag-related economic development efforts. I am a firm believer in building on our strengths and agriculture is one of our state’s strengths,” Troxler said. “I join Henderson County in celebrating the addition of this agricultural facility to your community. Your efforts are paying off.”
Williams added, “BrightFarms’ emphasis on “local” and rapid delivery of fresh products will benefit buyers across the state and region. Our area has a strong, year-round supply of tomatoes and other produce, but a volume producer of leafy greens has been missing. We couldn’t be happier that BrightFarms chose Henderson County for construction of its latest growing facility. This is a true complement to our existing hub of ag operations and AgHC is honored to continue partnering with BrightFarms as we all look forward to the first crops in 2021.”
For more information, please visit www.brightfarms.com.