Gotham Greens operates greenhouses in New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Illinois, and Colorado — a wide geographical range for a U.S. indoor farming company. Back in March, The Spoon reported on Gotham’s plans to open up growing operations in a new region: the West Coast.
Last week, Gotham officially opened the first phase of its new Davis, Calif. greenhouse. With the new facility, the company has cemented its title as the only nationwide controlled environment agriculture brand. Gotham also announced that it has become a Certified B Corporation™, reflecting the company’s emphasis on accountability and transparency.
Gotham Greens uses a climate-controlled, hydroponic system to grow salad greens and herbs. The company reports that its tech uses 95% less water and 97% less land to produce the same results as conventional farming.
The new California location will help Gotham to further expand its commercial footprint, reaching more retailers (including Whole Foods, Raley’s, and Sprouts Farmers Market) out west. “California is currently responsible for growing one-third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits, but has faced critical issues in the past years surrounding drought, food safety and worker welfare,” CEO and co-founder Viraj Puri told The Spoon via email. “Our approach is designed to cut down on food miles and bring our farms closer to you. Building greenhouses next to large urban populations and distributing our produce regionally allows us to reduce transportation time, fuel consumption and associated carbon emissions.”
Generally speaking, Gotham seeks out greenhouse locations that offer short delivery routes to retail locations. Aside from slashing emissions, the company’s regional hub model helps to cut transportation costs (one of the reasons why Gotham’s produce has achieved price parity with equivalent products).
“We’re also committed to adaptive reuse projects –– helping revitalize urban communities by transforming otherwise underutilized real estate into productive agriculture,” Puri said. The company built its Baltimore, Md. greenhouse on the site of a defunct steel mill; its Providence, R.I. greenhouse site was once home to a General Electric lighting factory.
Gotham purchased the land for its newest greenhouse from the University of California Davis. Puri said that the facility will help the company to step up its partnership with the university system. Gotham is a member of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources’ new controlled environment agriculture consortium, which is exploring crop optimization for indoor farming, automation and artificial intelligence in growing systems, and other topics.
In achieving Certified B Corporation™ status, Gotham has also committed itself to standards of social and environmental performance. The company already relies primarily on sunlight and renewables to power its greenhouses, and has plans to both cut its electricity use and reduce its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emission intensity by 5% by the end of 2024. According to Puri, the company’s investments in automation technology and LEDs will be key to achieving that goal.
In the next few years, Puri said, Gotham will also focus on expanding to more U.S. states and increasing operational capacity at existing greenhouses. The company will also seek out new partnerships with retailers to create salad dressings, dips, cooking sauces, and other products with Gotham Greens. (The company recently introduced a pesto sauce in Purple Carrot meal kits.)
So we’re sure to see Gotham expand and evolve in several different ways in the coming year. It’ll be particularly interesting to see what innovations the company’s partnership with the University of California might unlock, both in terms of building better indoor farming tech and advancing the agricultural workforce of the future.