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As noted on this website last week, the new Whole Foods at MarketStreet Lynnfield is set to open on Wednesday – and from the outset, customers will have the option of buying produce grown on what is currently the largest rooftop farm in New England, the first supermarket rooftop farm in the country, and the first one in Whole Foods company history.
Jessie Banhazl, CEO of Green City Growers, which maintains the produce for this and other area rooftop farms, reported that the 17,000 square foot farm has its own irrigation system and had its first plantings occur in June. Heat rising from the building below helps provide some warmth, she added, meaning that the growing season should run into November. Banhazl also reported that the chemical-free rooftop farm allows crops to be planted at about a 25% higher density than traditional farms. The farm was designed and installed by Recover Green Roofs of Somerville.
Another benefit, she explained, is that with no transportation costs from the rooftop produce, the company has more leeway to grow less common varieties such as heirloom tomatoes, which could be seen growing in one of the rows.
The rooftop farm can produce about 10,000 pounds of produce per year, and some of it will be used in the store’s prepared foods as well as on the shelves. Shoppers will likely regularly glimpse a worker bringing a fresh basketful of produce down from the rooftop.
Area media representatives and others got a look at the rooftop farm last week during a tour of MarketStreet, where other shops starting to open up on Thursday.