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Inside Colorado’s largest organic indoor farm

Approximately 20 miles west of Glenwood Springs, in the town of Silt, an indoor farm is bringing new technology to Colorado’s agriculture industry. Spring Born is a 2.5-acre greenhouse that is capable of growing 10,000 packs of arugula and green and red leaf lettuce per day.

Spring Born’s story began three years ago, when president Charles Barr began planning the company. His goal was to create a farm that simultaneously blends new technologies with sustainable and traditional growing methods. Using some of his own private funds, a business loan from the bank, and a Colorado C-PACE green energy grant, Barr was able to get to work on creating his sustainable agriculture business.

Barr’s background in wireless internet technologies and entrepreneurial mindset gave him the know-how he needed to develop a tech-savvy operation. The greens inside Spring Born, which officially launched last September, are grown in organic compost in individually irrigated gutters. By targeting water toward the plants’ root systems in a temperature-controlled environment—instead of in outdoor fields, where any moisture can quickly evaporate—Spring Born maximizes its yield while requiring less water than traditional farming operations. Plus, Barr’s methods and the farm’s proximity to the Front Range allow the products to reach Denverites via a smaller carbon footprint and maximize their shelf life. “Most of the lettuce in the United States comes from two areas: California and Arizona,” Barr says. “We wanted to move our operations away from those highly industrialized areas closer to the people who are actually eating from them.”

As the head of a small-but-mighty team, Barr knows that the key to success is having happy employees. Spring Born’s roster currently consists of 14 employees, with plans to staff up as operations grow. Wages generally start at $25 an hour, a rate usually unseen in the agriculture industry, especially for entry or mid-level positions, according to Barr. “The planting, the cutting, and the harvesting are all done using robotics,” Barr explains. “That allows us to raise our wages, give our employees an introduction to agriculture, and move our production closer to its consumption.”

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