Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that WDC Greenhouse, LLC (dba BrightFarms) will locate its newest greenhouse production facility in Culpeper County. The company will invest $7.35 million to construct and operate two new greenhouses and create 24 new jobs. In addition, BrightFarms will produce 750,000 cases of Virginia-grown green leaf produce and 30,000 cases of Virginia-grown tomatoes over the next three years.
Speaking about the announcement, Governor McAuliffe stated, “The attraction of BrightFarms to Culpeper County represents another step in strengthening Virginia’s agricultural economy. This project, with its investment in innovative technology, new jobs being created, and commitment to the environment, represents another economic win for this region. My administration is committed to utilizing fully our diverse agriculture industry, one of the Commonwealth’s greatest assets, to help build the new Virginia economy.”
A cutting-edge, scalable solution to Americans’ increasing demand for local and sustainable food, the BrightFarms Capitol greenhouse will use 80 percent less water, 90 percent less land and 95 percent less shipping fuel than conventional produce companies. It will create permanent green collar jobs, significantly reduce food miles, and improve the overall environmental impact of the food supply chain. The project will grow baby greens, basil and tomatoes exclusively for Ahold, one of the largest and most successful food retailers in the eastern United States. Slated for completion in December 2015, the greenhouse will provide produce for Ahold’s Giant Food and Martin’s supermarkets, as well as Peapod, a leading online grocery service, in Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and Delaware.
“BrightFarms’ entrepreneurial spirit and reputation make it a model for the role that agribusiness will play in helping to build the new Virginia economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. “The company has established itself as a significant player across the country for its innovative business model, sustainability practices, and quality product line. Lastly, BrightFarms’ investment in Culpeper will fuel the company’s expansion into the greater Washington, D.C. market, which is the nation’s seventh-largest metropolitan area, thus bringing high-quality, Virginia-grown products to more than six million citizens.”
BrightFarms grows local produce, nationwide. BrightFarms finances, builds, and operates local greenhouse farms in partnership with supermarkets, cities, capital sources, and vendors, enabling it to quickly and efficiently eliminate time, distance, and costs from the food supply chain. BrightFarms’ growing methods, a model for the future of scalable, sustainable local farming, use far less energy, land and water than conventional agriculture. Fast Company recognizes BrightFarms as “One of World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” and one of the “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Food” in the world. The Culpeper facility will be BrightFarms’ third greenhouse in the U.S. and its first in Virginia.
“The BrightFarms Capitol Greenhouse allows us, in partnership with Ahold, to provide consumers with the freshest and most sustainable local produce available, year-round,” said BrightFarms Chief BrightFarmer (CEO), Paul Lightfoot. “Not only is it a win for consumers but for the environment as well, as it will eliminate agricultural runoff, conserve land and water, and reduce greenhouse gas emission.”
The Commonwealth is partnering with Culpeper County and BrightFarms on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Governor McAuliffe approved a $75,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist with the project, which Culpeper County is matching with $75,000 in local grant funds.
“Agriculture is the largest and one of the most important industries in Culpeper County,” said Steven Nixon, Culpeper County Board of Supervisors Chairman. “We appreciate the Commonwealth’s assistance in bringing this dynamic project to fruition. We applaud BrightFarms, Inc. and their innovative approach to growing food close to the consumer in state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse systems.”
Speaking about the announcement, Senator Jill Vogel, R-Upperville said, “I congratulate BrightFarms and Culpeper County on this new partnership utilizing one of the Commonwealth’s greatest assets – agriculture – to bring more Virginia-grown products to consumers throughout state and the East Coast. Agriculture and agribusiness are key components to the region and the Commonwealth’s economic prosperity and we should do all we can to encourage more development in this vital economic sector.”
Delegate Michael Webert, R-Marshall added, “When we passed the legislation that established the AFID incentive grant program, I was excited to see Virginia embrace agriculture like we do any other business. The award of this grant by the Governor and Secretary Haymore provides a great opportunity for Culpeper County. I look forward to seeing their future success.”