$2 million per acre investment: Local Bounti opens hydroponics greenhouse in Peach County

A hydroponic greenhouse with the potential to produce a nearly $2 million per acre investment is growing its first crop of living lettuce in Peach County.

The greenhouse is nestled on just over 30 acres within the nearly 600-acre Robins International Industrial Park that has been primed for development by Peach County and Warner Robins.

Montana-based Local Bounti inherited the facility when it acquired Hollandi Produce Group, which operated under the name of Pete’s, earlier this year for $122.5 million.

Local Bounti also absorbed Pete’s 130 employees, including its president and chief operating officer Brian Cook. Cook now serves as president of Local Bounti.

Grand opening

Cook was among those who spoke at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the Local Bounti greenhouse.

Other event participants included Gary Black, Georgia’s agricultural commissioner; Warner Robins Mayor LaRhonda Patrick; B.J. Walker, executive director for the Development Authority of Peach County; Miss Georgia Kelsey Hollis, who was raised in Warner Robins; and Matt Walls, Southside Baptist Church co-pastor and pastor of the church’s Kathleen campus.

“Just like meeting any local farmer responsible for the fresh, leafy greens you put on your table, we want Georgians to get to know us and our company and have a chance to see how our lettuces are grown,” Cook said in a news release. “We are excited by the new opportunities that await Local Bounti as part of our expansion in Georgia.”

Credit: Becky Purser/The Telegraph

Credit: Becky Purser/The Telegraph

The event at 201 Pete’s Way included giveaways, music and food trucks, including Salsa’s Mexican Grill, Scott Boys Smokin’ BBQ, Little Light Coffee Co. and Frog’s Greatest Sno.

“We really tapped into our network within the community and just really want to support local and also support businesses that also support us,” said Blair Butterworth, Local Bounti’s marketing manager. “For example, Salsa’s will be using our lettuce in their dishes at the event.”

Pete’s Way is the $2.5 million Crestview Church Road extension through the industrial park from Ga. 41 to Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parkway. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parkway runs parallel to Interstate 75 between Exits 144 and 146.

Expansion

Local Bounti already has started expanding the 3-acre greenhouse to double its size with the potential to grow the greenhouse up to 24 acres of the 30.38 acre site, according to the release. The site is within Warner Robins city limits but has a Byron mailing address.

When the project was announced last year in April, the first phase was billed as an initial investment of $18 million to the local economy.

“A greenhouse is not what a greenhouse used to be,” Walker previously told The Telegraph. “You’re talking about investments of probably close to $2 million per acre, which is pretty strong.”

The greenhouse initially will grow Local Bounti’s salad greens, including spring mix, butter lettuce, romaine crisp, green leaf and other blends.

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Local Bounti plans to install at the greenhouse a hybrid of vertical farming and hydroponic greenhouse farming.

The company also expects to be able to directly serve 19 retail distribution centers within a roughly 400 mile radius of the greenhouse.

Hydroponic greenhouses are touted to use 90% less water and land than conventional farming, which allows growers to better control water, light and nutrients. Living lettuce is also billed to stay fresh longer.

“Because our products are grown in safe, controlled greenhouses, consumers don’t have to worry about rain and soil runoff contaminants or wildlife coming up to nibble on our products,” Cook said in the release. “We are keeping out what is bad and keeping in what is good.”

The facility became fully operational in mid-July and is expected to begin shipping its product early this month.


Credit: The Telegraph

Credit: The Telegraph

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