One of the newest buildings in Westbrook’s downtown is promising futuristic technology that will produce as much as 2 million pounds of fresh produce for Mainers every year. Meanwhile, one local official sees it as a gateway to long-awaited new development in the area.
“There’s a lot of efficiency that goes into this type of farming,” said Nona Yehia, the company’s CEO. The building occupies what was once an enormous parking lot on Mechanic Street in downtown Westbrook. The farm, along with an accompanying parking garage, is key to ambitious plans for the area’s future, according to Dan Stevenson, Westbrook’s economic development director. “It really helps define our downtown going forward,” he said.
The farm is expected to produce 2 million pounds of food a year, all in about half an acre of space, Yehia said. The farm will grow head lettuce, petite greens such as kale, spinach, and arugula, and microgreens such as radish, broccoli, and basil. It will sell through a partnership with Hannaford and also to schools, hospitals, food justice organizations, and other groups.
Most importantly, Yehia said, the farm’s principal customers will be within a 150-mile radius. She said the farm’s goal is to help reinforce a movement away from massive, out-of-state farms to “a hyper-local approach.”
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