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Living Green Farms introduces new way to combat outbreaks

MUNCIE, Ind. (NewsLink) --- After an outbreak of listeria in lettuce announced and recalled by the CDC in February, in brands like Dole and Fresh Express, a new way of growing leafy greens is coming to Muncie without the fear of outbreaks. 

“You hear about outbreaks of listeria, salmonella, E. coli, there is none of that here,” said CEO and President of Living Greens Farm, George Pastrana. Because this way of growing in a controlled environment does not use chemicals on the greens, there is no chance of disease outbreaks.  

“We found a great facility in Muncie that was pre-built and perfect for what we needed, and, we found really great partners,” Pastrana said. 

Living Greens Farm is coming to Muncie, but it introduces a new way of growing greens inside, vertically, with a small amount of mist. This allows fresh lettuce and other greens like basil and different types of lettuce to grow year-round, 24/7 and 365 days a year. 

“We raise the roots out of the water, so they’re just suspended in air and then we mist the roots with a nutrient-rich spray of water,” said Pastrana.

This vertical indoor farming approach uses 95% less water, 95% less shipping and 98% less land with no herbicides or pesticides in comparison to growing these greens from the ground. With most greens that we eat coming from warm states like California, New Mexico and the country of Mexico, this method increases freshness and turnaround time from traveling on a truck from those states. 

“From harvest to a shelf to local retailers will happen within 24 hours, and that further enhances the freshness and quality that we’re able to offer versus other indoor growers and traditional farms,” said Pastrana. 

After these greens are grown in the facility, they will be packaged there and sent to stores all over different states. Most importantly in Muncie, you will see Living Greens in Supermarkets like Fresh Thyme, Kroger stores and Walmart. There is a question that raises on whether growing indoors will be a bigger price to pay at the store, Pastrana said “a leading brand of traditional farmed bagged salad normally sells for four or five bucks, and that’s what we target as well.” 

In the future, you can expect Living Greens Farm to expand what they grow indoors as they experiment with more veggies. You will see the lettuce in stores around Muncie starting in 2023. 

Contact Terra Konieczny at tbkonieczny@bsu.edu with questions or comments.