DEVENS, MASS. – Little Leaf Farms is doubling its greenhouse-growing capacity to 10 acres of lettuce fields under glass, producing more than two million packages of lettuce each month, and broadening distribution to stores across New England and into New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and throughout the East Coast.
“It’s been a long time coming, but we have been outselling our competitors in all the major supermarkets for years,” said Paul Sellew, founder and chief executive officer of Little Leaf Farms. “During the pandemic, we continued to see how vital locally-grown food is to keeping people healthy. Our customers rave about the freshness of our lettuce, which is harvested and shipped within 24 hours. We consistently beat our competition in California and Arizona on quality and taste, and that demand warrants this major expansion.”
The company also recently bought 180 acres of land in McAdoo, Pa., and has plans to build another greenhouse there to further distribution down the East Coast.
With the global hydroponics market expected to reach $16 billion in 2025, Little Leaf Farms also plans to build a greenhouse in North Carolina. Optimistic about the company’s strong financial prospects and projected growth, Bank of America has supplied significant funding for this expansion.
“The way in which we grow acres of fresh lettuce under glass with natural sunlight and captured rainwater is the way of the future,” Sellew said. “The pandemic has shown us that we need strong local food systems to make our communities more resilient and improve the freshness and quality of produce. We are part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.”
By growing under glass, there is no risk of contamination because no human hands ever touch the lettuce, and the greens are not exposed to animal waste like outdoor field-grown lettuce, eliminating the hazard of E. coli, a common problem every year in field-grown lettuces.
Sustainability has been at the core of Little Leaf Farms growing system and includes:
Hydroponic production – growing without soil – naturally protects increasingly stressed topsoil that is vulnerable to soil erosion, an increasing problem in agriculture today. This method utilizes up to 90% less water than field-grown greens.
Lettuce is grown with 100% captured rainwater and natural sunlight through special high-light transmission glass windows.
Captured rainwater is treated naturally with UV light before it is used to hydrate the plants.
Solar panels also generate significant amount of electricity, and Little Leaf Farms burns clean natural gas to heat the greenhouse and captures the CO2 and releases it back into the greenhouse.
Little Leaf Farms’ Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) mobile gutter system delivers an approximately 20x yield increase per acre compared to traditional field agriculture and higher yields compared to other hydroponic systems.