growing under glass: from seed to harvest at green city growers

Green City Growers Cooperative is a for-profit, worker-owned company that operates under the umbrella of parent company Evergreen Cooperatives. From a 3.25-acre hydroponic greenhouse in the Central neighborhood of Cleveland, the company grows and sells a staggering three million heads of lettuce and another 300,000 pounds of herbs per year. All of those products are sold locally, to grocery stores and food service companies within a 50-mile radius.

Without Green City, that money would otherwise travel out of state to growers in California or Mexico.

Green City's 25 employees (which will soon number 42) all are in line to become owners of the cooperative. Employees own 80 percent of the company, with a holding company owning the remaining 20 percent of the equity. The employees are residents of Greater University Circle, living in the Cleveland neighborhoods of Buckeye-Shaker, Central, East Cleveland, Fairfax, Glenville, Hough, Kinsman, and Woodland Hills.

Crops grow in shallow pools of nutrient-rich water. The seeds are planted and germinate in the propagation room and are then transplanted to foam flats. The flats float on the nutrient-rich water starting at one end of the facility and slowly make their way to the other end. By the time they get there, they will be ready to harvest.

Photos Bob Perkoski