AREA DEVELOPMENT NEWS DESK
MassDevelopment sold Little Leaf Farms, about 14 acres of land at the state’s 4,400-acre former military installation property in Devens, Massachusetts, for a greenhouse production facility. Devens is an Enterprise Zone in the towns of Ayer and Shirley, Massachusetts.
Located in north-central Massachusetts and managed by MassDevelopment, in 1998 MassDevelopment began the redevelopment of Fort Devens, which today serves as the economic engine of north central Massachusetts. Created by statute in 1993 to support business growth and attract economic development opportunities in the region, the 4,400-acre site features fast-track permitting and other incentives for businesses. Along with its business tenants, the Devens community also includes more than 2,100 acres of recreation and open space, private residences, schools, and a network of human and social services providers.
Mass Development provided a $4.5 million loan to Little Leaf Farms toward the construction of a new state-of-the-art greenhouse facility to meet the region’s demand for high-quality, pesticide-free and locally grown leafy green vegetables. The company plans to grow baby lettuces and greens in its fully automated greenhouse.
These greens will be available to consumers in stores within a day after they are harvested. According to MassDevelopment it’s “a far cry from the bulk of greens sold in Massachusetts today that come from farms in Arizona or California that don’t arrive at markets in this region until six days after harvest.”
MassDevelopment’s loan helped finance the construction of the greenhouse and the installation of automated growing equipment for this operation. Little Leaf Farms’ greenhouse operations will be both technologically-advanced and environmentally-friendly, thanks to a number of state-of-the-art features which include rainwater recycling, advanced LED lighting and ultra-high efficiency heating systems.
“High-quality, locally grown food has become both popular and prudent for the Commonwealth’s consumers,” said MassDevelopment President/CEO Marty Jones. “We’re pleased to welcome Little Leaf Farms to Devens as the community’s latest innovative business, and I applaud Paul Sellew, Little Leaf’s Founder/CEO, and his Massachusetts agricultural colleagues for their commitment to the health of their customers and the environment.”
“Little Leaf Farms is proud to partner with MassDevelopment and greatly appreciates the Agency’s financial support in starting and building our business in Massachusetts,” said Sellew. “Little Leaf Farms has constructed and is now starting up the world’s most technologically-advanced greenhouse that will set the new standard in producing the highest quality, best-tasting year-round baby greens for the New England consumer. We view our company as an important part of the growing local food movement creating greater food security for our region. We are proud to be part of the Devens business community and look forward to growing our business there.”