Two town residents are planting the seeds for an indoor vertical hydroponic farm anticipated to provide locally grown foods, alongside a teaching kitchen, banquet hall, and educational not-for-profit space.
But before they can break ground, they’ll need some more government approvals. Michele Modestino and Greg Redington on Monday announced the new venture REDI-farms in advance of the town council’s introduction Tuesday of a redevelopment plan for the business to be located at 610 North Ave. East, in the century-old building once occupied by Handler Manufacturing.
“The pandemic brought to light issues of food insecurity and the need to keep it local,” Redington said in a statement. “It was during this time that Michele and I thought up the idea of REDI-farms.” Chris Colley, a planner for the town’s redevelopment firm, Topology, described vertical farming as a “growing component of the agricultural industry. It’s efficient on a square-foot basis. Importantly, it’s local, so it minimizes transportation costs.”
In addition to a “farm store,” Modestino and Redington said, they plan to provide a plant-based high-end restaurant, the teaching kitchen for adults, and a banquet hall that would be able to accommodate up to 80 people. The educational nonprofit component of the business will be able to accommodate schoolchildren from Westfield and nearby towns, who will be provided the opportunity to learn about sustainable farming, they said. The farm will transform a building that once housed a manufacturing facility.
“As an architect and engineer with an appreciation for the past, our adaptive re-use approach to historic buildings has always been a passion,” Modestino said. “Continuing the mindset of a low carbon footprint by reducing waste, we aim to bring old buildings back to life with a fresh, new use.”
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