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First Gotham Greens greenhouse opens in Davis

Growing food indoors can help combat climate change outdoors. This is how controlled environment farming helps conserve water and land use.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Anyone driving along I-80 recently from Sacramento to San Francisco has probably noticed the glowing building going up near Davis.

What’s inside is a farming solution addressing climate change.

Gotham Greens, a pioneer in urban agriculture, is partnering with the University of California Davis and the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) to find new farming methods in the face of water and land shortages, weather extremes and climate change.

Viraj Puri, Gotham Greens CEO, said the partnership with UC Davis and UC ANR is a strategic one since it's the center of technical talents, academic research institutions and the brain trust of the country, if not the world, for agriculture.

For this reason, Davis is now home to the first California and West Coast Gotham Greens greenhouse.

In California, land and water shortages have made feeding America a challenge, especially in the face of climate change.

Puri says greenhouse farming creates solutions to many of the problems facing the agriculture industry.

He said controlled environment farming or greenhouses can use 95% less water than conventional farming. This is achieved by recirculating the water in drip irrigation, which allows them to grow a full head of lettuce using less than a gallon of water. To grow that same head of lettuce in the Central Valley, it would take over 10 gallons of water.

This also reduces agricultural runoff – which is the largest contributor to water pollution in rivers and streams.

Greenhouses also help address growing land availability concerns. Puri said what they can grow in one acre of a greenhouse would take over 30 acres in the fields.

There's also the weather control aspect. No matter what the temperature is outside, the environment inside can be controlled to meet the needs of the produce.

He said working together in partnership with agriculture leaders will help make the food system more resilient, more reliable and more sustainable.

The food grown at Gotham Greens will be available on the UC Davis campus and also in local grocery stores.

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