Located in Indian Orchard, in western Massachusetts, Wellspring is a new $1.5 million urban farm, one of the first large-scale, urban, agricultural worker-owned cooperatives.
The greenhouse is designed to meet local lettuce demand year-round. It’s one of the first urban greenhouse cooperative farms to have Massachusetts Agricultural department Commonwealth Quality Program Certification, the most current and highest standards requirement for safe and best agricultural practices in the state of Massachusetts.
All of the food is grown in water using the hydroponic method, all pest control is done using organic methods, and all of the lettuce is non-GMO. Hydroponics, which literally means “water working,” is a technique for maximizing crop yields, nutrition and flavor using scientifically derived, crop specific organic nutrient mixes without the use of pesticides.
Full heads of Green and Red Salanova and Manoa Romaine lettuce will be among the grower’s first staple crops, with a few herb varieties, greens such as kale and bok choy, and a selection of culturally specific crops like Callaloo being grown as samples for test marketing.
“We want to be known as the urban cooperative greenhouse that can grow anything,” says Stephen Hilyard, lead urban farmer.
During these hot summer days and cooler nights, seedlings at the greenhouse are growing. A greenhouse shade curtain is protecting the plants from the hot sun during the day, as well as retaining heat inside the growing area for cold nights, for up to a 40 percent energy savings.
A greenhouse monorail system allows the Wellspring production team to easily move plants overhead and make the planting and harvesting process more efficient and safe.