Brooklyn the Successful Incubator: Gotham Greens
Untapped New York has covered Brooklyn food for many years. In 2014, we wrote about Gotham Greens, which was then presenting its wares at the annual food and beverage trade show hosted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. In those days Gotham Greens was a tiny fresh food company farming on Brooklyn roofs. “We are farmers that live in apartments. We see green fields where others see rooftops,” said its website, baldly appealing to local patriotism.
Today, Gotham Greens builds and operates sustainable greenhouses, operating one of the largest networks of high-tech hydroponic greenhouses in North America. It has raised more than $310 million in new capital, bringing its total financing to over $440 million since 2009.
In 2014, we wrote, “Did anyone predict urban agriculture could be profitable before 2010, when the Brooklyn Grange opened its soil farm on the roof of a 43,000-square-foot building in Queens, and Gotham Greens built its commercial-scale greenhouse on the roof of a warehouse in North Brooklyn? Using hydroponic technology—nutrient-rich, reusable water instead of soil—Gotham Greens has since opened a greenhouse on the roof of the Whole Foods in Gowanus, and will soon operate a third in Jamaica, Queens.”
In 2015, Gotham Greens expanded to Chicago, building a 75,000-square-foot greenhouse to serve the Midwest. In 2019, it added Providence and Baltimore, expanding its distribution to 40 states. Denver, serving the Mountain region, opened as the eighth greenhouse in 2020, and a site at the University of California-Davis became the 9th. By 2023, Gotham Greens projects that it will own and operate 13 high-tech, climate-controlled hydroponic greenhouses, totaling more than 40 acres (1.8 million square feet) across nine states.
“We concentrate on perishable crops,” Nicole Baum, Marketing & Partnerships Manager at Gotham Greens, told us in 2014, “especially the lettuces that must be shipped long distances, from Latin America and California, and the herbs that are so treasured by today’s cooks.” In place of long-distance transport, they simply carry the products down from the roof, converting “food miles to food footsteps,” said Gotham Greens co-founder Viraj Puri.
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