HortiDaily: Dynamic spectra for Little Leaf Farms
Little Leaf Farms is expanding again and delivering on its vision to supply fresh, locally grown leafy greens throughout the East Coast of America. With the addition of their newest greenhouse, Little Leaf Farms will serve New England to the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. “We are currently delivering our lettuce to more than 2,500 stores within 24 hours after harvesting”, according to Paul Sellew, founder and CEO of Little Leaf.
The new facility in Pennsylvania comprises 180 acres that will be built out in multiple phases with the first phase consisting of a 4 ha greenhouse. Little Leaf Farms grows lettuce in a sustainable manner through rainwater collection, no chemical pesticides, an automated “hands-free” process to enhance food safety, localized production to drastically reduce food waste, and fewer miles to transport to the end market.
To achieve this, they have been working with a number of partners since they opened in 2015. They focus on the most efficient and advanced growing technologies, that allow them to grow the highest-quality lettuce at a scale and affordability, to become the best-selling packaged salad on the East Coast.
PB-tec is responsible for the water treatment system, the computer system, lighting, and electrics. Koen Brabander, Commercial Director of PB tec: “It has been an ongoing development together with the Little Leaf Farms team, VB group, and PB tec. As system integrators, we give our advice. Little Leaf Farms gives feedback and new ideas from phase one until today, resulting in one of the most innovative and efficient baby leaf lettuce producers in the world. Their greenhouses are semi-closed to keep influence from outside to a minimum. Closed irrigation systems are pretty standard, but Little Leaf Farms takes it a step further by also reusing all flush water so that they are 100% closed. They use the most advanced filtration technologies to treat the return water and harvest all the rainwater from the roofs and use it in irrigation.
LED lights with dynamical spectra
Little Leaf Farms has chosen Oreon’s water-cooled LED grow light Monarch as their additional LED lights for the fourth time in a row. Corporate head grower Pieter Slaman is enthusiastic about this extended cooperation: “We’re a successful team. I’ve been looking at what kind of light the plant needs to grow, there’s a reason that the sun is made up of more than just red and blue light. The fixture with Little Leaf spectrum, as we call it now, switches on when the sun comes up and goes down, to make the transition from day to night more natural, which contributes to the condition of the plant. It has turned out to be very successful, so we’re not changing a winning team in the new facility.”
Oreon’s sales manager for North America Bill Whittaker is pleased and proud: “We believe that Little Leaf Farms is extraordinary in its kind. Their goal to locally produce fresh vegetables in the most sustainable way is admirable and has proven to be relevant especially during this pandemic. Their sustainable way of growing locally will become the new standard in horticulture and also something that consumers appreciate and demand. We are proud to be their lighting partner since day one and do our utmost to grow with them in the future.”