Based in Boston, American Ag Energy integrates greenhouses with power plants to grow vegetables all year long. By using combined heat and power, hydroponic irrigation, enhanced lighting, supplemental carbon dioxide, and advanced control systems, the company aims to contribute to making the agriculture industry less resource intensive and more climate resilient.
Currently, the company is working on constructing two 10-acre greenhouses in Berlin, New Hampshire to yield up to 15 million heads of lettuce and 8 million pounds of tomatoes annually. The greenhouses are expected to supply produce to local grocery stores by next spring.
As part of its Rural Development Business Program, the USDA has granted North Country Growers (American Ag Energy subsidiary) a $25 million guaranteed loan.
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“I think there are just so many advantages to rebuilding our food system to encourage a more local model,” said project manager Jack Daley in an interview with NHPR
“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.
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“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.
As reported by the New Hampshire Public Radio, 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. The project is expected to provide 80 to 85 jobs to local communities.
Greenhouses in New Hampshire
Amongst other greenhouses, industry leaders Brightfarms have recently expanded to New hampshire through the acquisition of lēf farms (pronounced leaf) for an undisclosed amount with plans to expand the production capacity to meet a growing demand. Other companies are also expected to initiate projects in the coming months as the state envisions to further local production.
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