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|Berlin Greenhouse Receives $25 Million Loan|
|Published Tuesday, November 14, 2017|
A rendering of the North Country Growers greenhouses. Courtesy of Berlin Daily Sun.
The USDA Office of Rural Development guaranteed a $25 million loan granted to North Country Growers to fund the construction of a more than 1-million-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse on a 20-acre property in Berlin. The company expects to produce 8 million pounds of tomatoes and 15 million heads of lettuce as well as create at least 80 jobs once the greenhouses are completed.
North Country Growers is a subsidiary of American Ag Energy, a Boston-based firm that integrates greenhouses with power plants to grow a variety of vegetables.
Construction of the greenhouse began earlier this summer, with funding provided by a NH-based bank (American Ag Energy won’t disclose the identity of the bank until the deal is closed) and private investment from American Ag Energy. The company didn’t have a final determined cost for the project and declined to provide an initial estimate.
Richard Rosen, CEO of American Ag Energy, says the company is “building as quickly as possible” and expects the first phase of the project to be completed in 2018. The company plans to begin the second phase of the project about six months after the greenhouse begins operations. Rosen says the second phase will double the size of the facility and create additional jobs.
“Our simple goal is to employ a lot of people in New Hampshire and provide real career opportunities,” Rosen says. “We’re not using agriculture labor from Mexico in this project. We buy a lot of stuff locally and want to make sure everyone who comes to work for us will have a chance to have a real job.”
American Ag Energy also aims to adopt environmentally friendly practices and use renewable resources to help both the planet and its bottom line. The company uses recovered rainwater and predatory insect species instead of pesticides. Its greenhouses use electricity, waste heat and CO2 produced by the combined heat and power facility.
These methods reduce fuel costs by about 3,000 barrels of oil per acre of land, absorb 70 percent of CO2 emissions with its crops and produce more than 15 times the amount of tomatoes than if grown in an open field, leading to a 500 percent increase in water efficiency.
For more information, visit americanagenergy.com.
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