September 7, 2018

Little Leaf Farms signs on to supply Springfield's 26,000 students

Photo | Grant Welker
Paul Sellew, co-founder and CEO of Little Leaf Farms

Little Leaf Farms, a Devens operation growing baby greens hydroponically, has signed an agreement to supply lettuce and arugula to one of the state's largest public school districts.

Little Leaf Farms announced the deal with Springfield this week, adding the state's third-largest city to a list of customers already including more than 1,700 retail outlets throughout the Northeast, along with UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Williams College and the city of Chicopee. The facility, which calls itself one of the largest growers of hydroponic baby greens in North America, will begin supplying Springfield schools in 2019.

Little Leaf Farms, which grows all of its products in a five-acre greenhouse without use of any soil, will open a culinary and nutrition center in Springfield to help make meals for the school district's 26,000 students and 4,000 employees.

The facility opened in 2016 at an area of Devens next to where the military once trained for the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands of heads of leafy greens pass through a completely automated system in just 25 days, providing local produce year-round that wouldn't be possible if it were grown outdoors.

Each of 30,000 trays that the greens grown in are filled by machine with a mineral product mimicing soil. All water that's used is from rainwater collected onsite.

Little Leaf Farms is planning for much larger growth. It has said it will grow to 10 acres in an expansion slated to start next year.

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