DOAG: PLANNED HYDROPONIC FARM IN SUFFIELD GETS STATE FINANCIAL BACKING



 

February 14, 2017

 

 

PLANNED HYDROPONIC FARM IN SUFFIELD GETS STATE FINANCIAL BACKING

 

A 43-acre indoor hydroponic vegetable farm in Suffield being created by a well-known Connecticut farmer and his partners will receive $3 million in state assistance and is expected to create 40 new jobs over the next two years.

 

Four Season Farm is a venture being proposed by Joe Geremia, who now runs seven acres of greenhouses in Wallingford; Henry Froese, a pioneer and expert in the building of greenhouse operations, and Herbert Soroca, CEO of North Cove Capital Advisors in Stamford, which provides financial, management and strategic advice to emerging growth companies.

 

Four Season Farm LLC has purchased 94 acres of the Baker Farm on Poole Road, and its five-year plan includes a 10-acre facility that will produce 5.75 million pounds of tomatoes the first year and 7.5 million pounds by the third year. Groundbreaking is expected to happen this spring.

 

At least 40 new jobs are expected to be created in the initial phase, and the farm will operate in two shifts.

 

Eventually, the farm plans to create a 43-acre greenhouse complex and add crops such as cucumbers, peppers and micro-greens.

 

The facility will use the latest technology, including computer controlled light, humidity and nutrients.

 

The state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is providing financing support for the purchase of machinery and equipment for the farm, which will supply vine-ripened tomatoes primarily to the Connecticut and Northeast markets. The state Bond Commission approved the financial package earlier this month.

 

From November to March, most fresh tomatoes sold in the Northeast are grown in Mexico, various Central American countries and the Caribbean Islands. Those tomatoes are hothouse-grown and are technically considered vine-ripened, but are shipped in various stages of ripeness.

 

 

 

Geremia, who grew up on his parent’s farm in Wallingford and has developed his business into one of the most successful and environmentally-friendly greenhouse facilities in the Northeast, said Four Season Farm will offer superb tasting, vine-ripened tomatoes.

 

“Four Season Farm will lay the foundation for a new generation of indoor agriculture to compete with foreign produce, create living wage jobs and tax revenues for Suffield and the state, and provide locally grown, healthy food for Connecticut consumers,” said Geremia, a former Connecticut Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year. “We are grateful for the state’s support.”

 

Over the past 20 years, Geremia has also traveled extensively to learn the latest in vegetable production techniques and greenhouse and distribution technology, and brought the best solutions back to his own operation.

 

Froese is a pioneer and builder of the greenhouse industry in Ontario, Canada, where he has built more than 800 acres of greenhouses.

 

Froese and his companies have had a hand in building over 1,300 acres of greenhouses in North America, for which he acted as general contractor on behalf of the greenhouse farmers.

 

In announcing the financing package, Governor Dannel P. Malloy said:

 

“Farming in the 21st century can be very different from what we know, and Four Season Farm can lead the way with this innovative, technologically advanced operation.  We’re happy to have them establish their operations in our state and look forward to seeing them grow.”

 

Four Season Farm is working with experienced firms and consultants from Canada and The Netherlands to develop the project.

 

The farm will employ the latest in technological advances and offer multiple “green” opportunities to use CO2, conserve water, land, and energy.

 

“It’s great to see technology play a role in improving our farming capabilities,” DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said.  “And what could be better than assuring consumers a fresh supply of delicious, vine-ripened, locally grown vegetables year-round?”

 

Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky, an advocate of indoor agriculture who has toured several large-scale hydroponic facilities in Quebec, Canada, said the Suffield project could lead the way to transforming Connecticut’s greenhouse industry. 

 

“Hydroponic and other types of indoor farming are becoming increasingly effective alternatives to traditional growing methods in many parts of the world,” Reviczky said.  “Connecticut has a well-established greenhouse industry that I believe could make the transition to growing food 12 months a year, and has the customer base to support it.”