Construction is expected to start in the coming months on two large greenhouses in Berlin that could yield up to 15 million heads of lettuce and 8 million pounds of tomatoes annually. The project by Boston-based American Ag Energy aims to supply local grocery stores with produce as early as next spring, using two 10-acre greenhouses that will operate year-round.
“I think there are just so many advantages to rebuilding our food system to encourage a more local model,” said project manager Jack Daley. “When you look at a lot of the challenges the globe is facing — supply chain, water scarcity — really all of those challenges can be met by indoor growing,” Daley said.
The operation will be powered by a natural gas pipeline once used by Berlin’s paper mills and will use the waste heat produced in electricity generation to heat the greenhouses. They’ll also make use of rainwater for irrigation. “Additionally, we recover the carbon dioxide that is generated in the production of the waste heat, and it is applied to help the photosynthetic process that allows plants to grow,” Rosen said.
Planning for the project started in 2017. After meeting with Berlin community members, going through state permitting processes, obtaining EPA permits, and entering into a tax agreement with the city, American Ag Energy expects to start construction on their first greenhouse in July or August.
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