What is the science behind Boston Greens' approach to farming?
Plants need water, nutrients, sunlight, and the right climate in order to grow and thrive. Boston Greens’ state-of-the-art greenhouses and hydroponic techniques give plants exactly what they need in order to create the purest, healthiest produce while protecting them (and us) from harmful contaminants. Boston Greens takes great care to ensure that its practices are sustainable because we care about the health and well-being of our customers, our community, and our planet.
Water and Nutrients
Boston Greens grows their plants using proven hydroponic growing techniques. The plants grow in non-leaching PVC channels that look very similar to the gutters found on houses. The water and nutrients flow underneath the plant roots in a steady stream, and the plants take in exactly what they need through their roots, which are supported and stabilized by an ultra-sanitary, soil-like medium. The water is filtered to a high level of purity using both nano-filtration and reverse osmosis, and the nutrients are added in precise amounts so there is no waste or contaminated run-off.
Sunlight and Climate
Boston Greens’ state-of-the-art greenhouses provide the correct light intensity and amount of light while also maintaining an appropriate microclimate for each plant, year-round, even in New England. Specially made high transmittance glass allows most of the sun’s energy to reach the plants, but growers can shut the shades during the day if the sunlight intensity needs to be decreased. In the darker months of winter, high efficiency LED lights can supplement the winter sunlight, and growers can close the shades to keep light and heat in.
The greenhouses employ several energy efficient technologies to maintain the correct temperature and humidity level year-round. During the warmer months, the greenhouse is cooled by a cooling pad room where 50 – 60° F well water cools the air which is then blown into the greenhouse by fans. As the air warms and rises, it is pulled out of the greenhouse by exhaust fans, along with excess humidity. In the winter, heaters near the ceiling blow in heat, which sinks as it cools. Both the heating and cooling systems create a convection current in the greenhouse that acts like the wind in a field and aerates the plants, decreasing the likelihood of fungal contamination and making it more difficult for unwanted insects to land on the crops.
Purity and Health
As our agriculture system has become increasingly industrialized, more and more consumers have become concerned about the safety and quality of the food they eat.
Areas of safety concern include soil and water pollution, pesticide use, bacterial contamination, and GMO’s. Greenhouse growing eliminates these concerns because the plants grow in a protected environment, with no soil and with highly purified water. Herbicides are not used at all. Pesticides, such as fungicides, and insecticides are are kept to a bare minimum if used at all. Weeds are not a problem because there is no place for them to grow, and the wind from the convection currents helps prevent fungal growth. Insect pests can be a problem if they colonize a greenhouse, but Boston Greens uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a set of techniques that aims to prevent insect infestation using knowledge of ecological relationships. Bacterial contamination is not a concern because the plants are not exposed to contaminated run-off from animal wastes. Finally, the plants cannot be cross-contaminated with GMO plants because Boston Greens’ plants grow in their own protected environment.
Boston Greens is also committed to providing you with the highest quality produce because although it may be a cliché, it is true that you are what you eat. Your health is intimately linked to the food that you take in, and consuming high quality, nutrient-rich foods is good for you. Unfortunately, our industrial food system has caused many of our most nutritious fruits and vegetables to lose much of their nutrient value before you even bring them home from the store because they are held in warehouses and then shipped great distances. Boston Greens ships its produce no more than 100 miles, thus ensuring that the plants arrive in your local store alive and packed with nutrition and beneficial plant compounds.
Boston Greens is committed to farming practices that are sustainable and energy efficient every step of the way with very little waste. The water in the nutrient solution is filtered and reused more than once, resulting in virtually no water loss to the environment. The nutrients are given in amounts that meet the plants’ needs, and any excess nutrients simply cycle around the system again, rather than running off into the environment to contaminate water supplies. The greenhouse itself allows Boston Greens to grow many plants on a small amount of land without depleting the soils.
Boston Greens’ state-of-the-art greenhouses employ many technologies in order to be as energy efficient as possible. Some examples include: the curtains, the convection currents created by the heating and cooling systems, the high light transmittance glass, and the HID and LED artificial lighting.
Finally, by being a local supplier, Boston Greens does not need to store produce in climate-controlled warehouses, and the produce only travels a short distance, thus greatly reducing the amount of fossil fuels used in delivery.