Wellspring Harvest is the first commercial hydroponic greenhouse in the City of Springfield, located at 121 Pinevale Street in the Indian Orchard neighborhood. The quarter acre (15,120 square foot) greenhouse was completed in April 2018 and will bring healthy, locally grown produce to area hospitals, schools, businesses, and residents. The greenhouse employs five local residents and is organized as a for-profit worker-owned cooperative business.
The greenhouse will produce an estimated 250,000 plants a year (lettuce, greens, and herbs).
Our core customers include the Springfield Public Schools, Mercy Medical Center, Baystate Medical Center, local food co-ops and Big Y Supermarkets.
Wellspring Harvest also has a community engagement component including education about urban agriculture, hydroponic growing and sustainability. Tours and educational programs will be arranged with the Springfield Public Schools and the community. Wellspring is a partner in the Springfield Changemakers grant with the Springfield Schools and Boston College Lynch School of Education.
Wellspring’s Cooperative Greenhouse addresses a number of social and environmental needs in the region and will contribute to economic and ecological well-being. Wellspring responds to the need for environmentally sustainable, season-extending food production that can produce at scale so that New England can achieve greater food independence despite its short growing season. Greenhouse production in Massachusetts remains small, with only 9 greenhouses in the state in 2007 of the size that Wellspring is proposing. Total production of greenhouse vegetables and herbs is less than 2% of the state’s agricultural production, while many greens and herbs are only available from farms for 30-50% of the year. Institutional markets can provide stable, large scale demand which will enable greenhouses to build the capacity to produce at scale, and therefore at more affordable prices.
The Wellspring urban greenhouse also responds to the urgent need to create entry-level jobs in Springfield and to enable workers to accumulate assets to invest in housing, education, and better health. Wellspring’s worker cooperatives provide job training and stable employment as well as profit sharing for low-income Springfield residents who have few opportunities to advance economically. Financial stability and employment are closely correlated with better eating and better health, and so Wellspring’s job creation work is an important complement to increased access to nutritious food in the city.
Finally, Wellspring will help hospitals, schools, universities and communities reach their public health goals. Institutional food purchasers are seeking local produce in response to a number of pressures, which is creating an unmet demand for year-round greenhouse production.
Hospitals have a new mandate to maintain population health in the federal Affordable Care Act, which means new attention to nutrition both inside the hospital and in the community as a critical element in addressing epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Public schools and colleges are also looking for healthier, fresh food alternatives in response to the demands of parents, students and health professionals.