Local citrus in mid-America? Build your own greenhouse

People are increasingly interested in buying local foods, but there’s no universally accepted definition for what local means for various shoppers. Some have suggested the idea of bio-regions to get a handle on what is truly local.

Still, if you’re sitting in Chicago on a winter’s day as I am, you have to wonder if you’ll ever be able to buy something like a local banana which needs a lot more heat and sun than we have here.

Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert looks at one alternative in his video, a man in Nebraska who built his own greenhouse to grow local.

“Geothermal greenhouses high on the Nebraska plains house a citrus grove with trees holding up a canopy of lemons, grapefruit-sized oranges, green figs and bunches of grapes. The designer, a former mail carrier and farmer, Russ Finch designed the structure and calls it the Greenhouse in the Snow,” Lempert reports. Finch thinks he can even grow bananas!!!

Others are backing the idea of greenhouse agriculture in urban areas. Gotham Greens, a company I wrote about in a past life when I was editor of a food magazine, boasts that it “has built and operates over 170,000 square feet of technologically advanced, urban rooftop greenhouses across 4 facilities in New York City and Chicago. Gotham Greens is actively developing urban agriculture projects in cities across the United States.”

Putting these greenhouses on otherwise unused flat roofs on supermarkets and food warehouses is a great use of space and can provide local jobs for future urban farmers as well.

For more news from the urban agriculture front, check out my son’s blog, From the Ground Up North, which is getting a lot of positive notice in the Twin Cities area.



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