Wellspring Harvest, a Springfield-based hydroponic greenhouse, will receive a $15,000 loan and $15,000 grant from the Massachusetts Food Trust Program to provide greater support, stability, and access to their greenhouse. The greenhouse began sales in July 2018 and is just completing its first year of operations. It is the largest urban greenhouse in the state.
The hydroponic greenhouse provides varieties of fresh lettuce and herbs to local hospitals, schools and colleges, and grocery stores, including a number of Big Y Supermarkets. Wellspring Harvest is targeting other urban supermarkets to supply year round local produce as well. The greenhouse has prioritized creating jobs for low-income residents and providing local, fresh produce throughout the region.
Organized as a worker cooperative, Wellspring Harvest is one of four businesses under the Wellspring Cooperative umbrella and is located in the diverse, low-income community of Indian Orchard. The organization currently employs eight people, a majority of whom are women, people of color, and residents within the community. Employees learn skills on the job while they work. After a year of work, these employees become worker-owners and will help transition Wellspring Harvest into an official minority-owned business. As worker owners, employees share in company profits which builds wealth as well as income to enable families to advance economically.
In addition to building a strong, diverse, and community-led workforce, Wellspring Harvest has remained engaged in the Indian Orchard community and dedicated to its residents. The greenhouse reclaimed a blighted brownfield site that once belonged to Chapman Valve, one of the historic industries in Springfield. Wellspring Harvest hosts monthly community meetings at the local library where they teach lessons about how to grow their own food and herbs and carry out community projects. The greenhouse itself is also utilized as a site for science and food education and any extra lettuce produced is donated to the local food pantry.
Images provided by Amine Benali (Local Enterprise Assistance Fund)