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Brooklyn Whole Foods Sells Produce Grown on Its Roof

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TWC News: Brooklyn Whole Foods Sells Produce Grown on Its Roof
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An area grocery store is taking the "buy your produce local" idea to a new level, allowing customers to buy produce that was grown just about 100 feet from the cash register. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.

It uses solar power and wind power, and collects rainwater to use as toilet water and to water the plants outside. The exterior was built with reclaimed bricks. Inside, displays are made with wood taken from parts of the Coney Island boardwalk destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. So how could a Brooklyn Whole Foods possibly get even greener? Well, it's taking that whole "buy local produce" thing to a new level - literally, a new level: its roof.

"This is the country's only commercial-grade greenhouse facility that's actually integrated into a retail store," says Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens. "So you're standing in a state-of-the-art climate-controlled greenhouse that's able to monitor the climate year-round to create very consistent reliable growing conditions for the crops, and as a result of that, we're able to grow high-quality produce in high yields year-round."

The greenhouse is run by Gotham Greens, which sells and grows produce in urban areas. This facility uses lots of technology to grow pristine leafy greens, herbs and tomatoes.

"This is a 20,000-square-foot state-of-the-art greenhouse," Puri says. "So we have sensors located all over that are tracking temperature, humidity, light levels, CO2, oxygen, etc., and all this information is fed to a computer control system that then turns equipment on and off in the greenhouse to achieve the desired conditions that we want."

Now, if you think, 'OK, nice little publicity stunt or experiment in going green,' think again. Growers say even though this facility is just a half acre in size, it grows as much as an entire 10-acre farm.

"We do about over 200 tons of product from this facility each year," Puri says. "We sell to Whole Foods all over the city. We also sell to local restaurants."

Gotham Greens says it's able to keep prices competitive with bigger produce sellers because rather than having to pay for trucks or planes or any of the other costs associated with transporting food, it simply has to pick it up and walk it downstairs.

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