EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Schartner Farms will soon be the home of the largest indoor tomato farming facility in the Northeast, according to the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
Rhode Island Grows, a produce company that’s headquartered on the Exeter farm, kicked off its new tomato project during a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday.
The $57 million facility, according to the DEM, will take approximately eight months to build, and the initial crops will be ready for harvesting at least four months after that.
The DEM said the solar-powered facility will utilize hydroponics technology and the crops will be irrigated by captured rain water.
Since the indoor facility will be climate-controlled, it will allow for year-round tomato production and more than 80 full-time jobs.
Annually, the facility will produce 14 million pounds of organic tomatoes, according to the DEM.
This is just the first phase of the project, which the DEM said will cost nearly $800 million in total.
When all is said and done, officials said the company plans on building 10 additional indoor facilities over the next decade.
“As industrial agricultural in other areas of the country and central America have squeezed out local farms, this self-sufficient facility will enable the Schartner family to continue their century of farming in Rhode Island with another 100 years,” the DEM said in a statement.