WEST KINGSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Right now, only one-percent of Rhode Island’s food is produced within its borders. The bulk of our produce is shipped from California, Mexico, or Central or South America and ripens en route. Rhode Island’s first commercial hydroponic greenhouse, operated by Atlantic Produce, Inc., opened Thursday in hopes of changing that.
The difference of a hydroponic greenhouse is that the plants are never in soil, “so they absorb no chemicals or contaminants that exist in soil, and they require no herbicides or pesticides,” Atlantic Produce said in a news release Thursday.
“We establish the temperature in a climate control room and we circulate that air through convection currents. So we have a consistent temperature from top to bottom, and from front to back,” said Lewis Valenti, CEO of Atlantic Produce.
The greenhouse is actually equipped with climate control curtains that are designed to keep out some of the heat.
“We have certain aspects of the greenhouse that can manage to keep all of the energy that we want in, but also can diffuse can diffuse some of the energy that we want to keep out,” Valenti added.
The greenhouse on Liberty Lane in West Kingston is developing a line of leafy green vegetables and herbs, known as Boston Greens, to sell to commercial and restaurant customers throughout Southern New England.
The Ocean State has joined a goal adopted by other New England states to produce 50 percent of the region’s food by 2060.
The 8,435 square-foot greenhouse will grow 250,000 heads of lettuce every year, the company founders said. The products include Boston Bibb, red, green, red oak and gourmet mini romaine.