US (MA): Year-round lettuce without human hands

Little Leaf Farms in Devens has, in just over a year, drastically changed the ability of shoppers in New England to buy fresh, local leafy greens year-round, something never possible with traditional farming.

Little that Little Leaf Farms does is traditional.

Across a three-acre greenhouse, tens of thousands of heads of leafy greens pass through a completely automated system in just 25 days. Each of 30,000 trays are filled by machine with a mineral product by the Dutch company Rockwool, acting as a type of soil.

"It's better than soil," said Paul Sellew, the Little Leaf CEO and co-founder.

Over the next few weeks, the greens slowly move along another conveyor as they grow until they're ready to be chopped and packaged, moving along a series of conveyor belts like a Rube Goldberg machine. The first hands to touch the product pack it to be shipped within minutes of it first rolling out of the greenhouse.

The greens arrive the next day at 800 grocery stores across New England and upstate New York, including Stop & Shop, Shaw's, Star Market, Hannaford and Market Basket.

Read more at the Worcester Business Journal (Grant Welker)

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