Light pollution throws shadow over recently opened North American greenhouses

In the shadow of the festive opening of new greenhouse operations across the U.S and Canada, local residents have expressed their concerns about light pollution caused by lit year round greenhouse operations.

For example in Wapakoneta, where Golden Fresh Farms recently opened a $22.5 million, 20-acre greenhouse facility. Local residents are complaining about the “overwhelming” glow created from the lights used to grow the produce.

John Wehner, who lives about a mile and a half north of the farm, told, that the light permeates through his bedroom window and has woken him up in the early hours of the morning. Wehner and other neighborhood residents are worried about their property values and concerned about what the future will bring them, because over the next ten years, Golden Fresh Farms wants to grow to a total of 200 acres in Wapakoneta.

Another place where a recently opened greenhouse business is causing complaints from local residents is Loudon, New Hampshire. Here the light is emitted by the thousands of lamps inside LEF Farms' hydroponic greenhouse business. The company invested $10 million to grow gourmet lettuce indoors with the help of grow lights. According to an article on the website of New Hampshire Public Radio, LEF Farms does have a shade curtain installed at the greenhouse, but it’s porous - more porous than the company thought it would be. In order to please the neighborhood, LEF now turns the lights off during the evening and then back on again after midnight.

In Medicine Hat, Canada, light pollution is talk of town since Big Marble Greenhouses and Sunshine Greenhouses expanded their operations and increased supplemental lighting. Pilots have said to be hindered by the greenhouse lights when approaching the Medicine Airport. As well as the local residents and even the local astronomy club expressed their concerns. Meetings are currently taking place between the greenhouse growers, local authorities, Medicine Hat airport and other parties, to come to a solution. "We are hopeful that in discussions about this issue at upcoming meetings, a solution can be found; whether it be through the use of blackout curtains or even switching lighting methods, such as using LED bulbs that are directed downwards. Our club members would appreciate this, as would the members of the public who come out and share our love of astronomy with us", Medicine Hat Astronomy Club member Chris Kohlman commented in the Medicine Hat News.

A solution against light pollution may lie in the installation of blackout screens. In Holland for example, where large concentrated greenhouse operations have been causing severe amounts of light pollution in the past, new greenhouses are required by law to minimize light pollution and install total blackout curtains when using supplemental lighting.

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