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Natural Grocers Keeps It Close With New Onsite Organic Hydroponic Farm

GardenBox pilot program produces organic leafy greens at Colorado location
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
a close up of a flower
Several varieties of organic lettuce will be grown in a hydroponic container farm just steps from a Natural Grocers store.

Locally-grown produce is getting a lot more local at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. The natural foods retailer is launching a new hydroponic GardenBox pilot program at a location in Lakewood, Colo., through which organic leafy greens are grown within mere feet of the store.

Several varieties of lettuce will be planted and harvested in vertical systems inside a shipping container equipped with technologies that control water, light and nutrients for optimal growth. All of the GardenBox lettuces will be priced at $1.99 per head and labeled as certified organic by Where Food Comes From Organic.

The greens will also be labeled as Clean Hydroponic Produce with verification from the Alliance for Sustainable Hydroponics. As part of that certification program, Natural Grocers is participating in scientific research studies on nutrient density and energy use.

“Natural Grocers has been committed to selling fresh, 100% organic produce from day one as a way for us to support our communities and our planet,” said Co-President Kemper Isely. “This next step — of sustainably growing organic and clean hydroponic produce ourselves, on site, and harvested fresh for our store every morning — truly speaks to that commitment and to who we are as a company. We can’t wait for our hometown community to taste produce that was grown literally outside our store.”

Natural Grocers has more than 3,500 employees and operates 159 stores in 20 states. The Lakewood, Colo.-based company is No. 95 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food retailers in North America.

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