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Pure Green Farms harvests first indoor crop in South Bend

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 6:11 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - It looks like the trip from farm to table is about to get dramatically shorter for lettuce lovers in Michiana.

California now grows about 75 percent of the nation’s lettuce crop, but some two million pounds will be grown this year in South Bend, Indiana.

“And so here we are in South Bend, Indiana, 12 months of the year, seven days a week, you’re going to be able to get this beautiful lettuce right here and have it for your plate,” Joe McGuire, CEO of Pure Green Farms.

Pure Green built a $25 million indoor farming operation off Calvert Street on South Bend’s west side. Some three and a half acres of lettuce is now being grown there.

“Any factor affecting plant production within the greenhouse, we look to control. That’s the temperature, that’s the relative humidity, that’s the concentration of carbon dioxide,” explained Matthew Gura, Vice President of Operations.

At the Pure Green Farms facility, it’s always 70 degrees. Today there will be 16 hours of sunlight, real or simulated. It’s an ideal climate for plants and people.

“When I come to work, especially on a dreary, you know, perma-cloud Michiana day and I walk into the greenhouse, you know, it’s invigorating,” Gura said.

At the Pure Green Farms facility, a lettuce plant matures in just 25 days. Everything, from planting to harvest to packaging is done hands-free through a massive maze of conveyor belts.

Suddenly, a plant mainly grown in sunny California can be grown in South Bend.

“We can grow in a very hyper-local kind of way here, and distribute to, you know, the people in our community which really means a lot to me personally,” said Head Grower, Johnathan McCullar.

While lettuce is the first crop to be grown at the South Bend facility, but it might not be the last. Pure Green Farms has plenty of room on the grounds to expand.

“There’s real interesting things going on with different types of vine crops and then different types of lettuces as well. Who knows, we’ll see, maybe one day we might be growing strawberries here or tomatoes,” said Joe McGuire.

Pure Green now employs 22 full time workers.

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