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Berlin greenhouses to break ground in April

Union Leader Correspondent

January 14. 2018 8:46PM
Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier stands on East Milan Road where an entrance will likely be built to the two giant greenhouses. (JOHN KOZIOL/UNION LEADER FILE)

COURTESY A rendering of the Berlin greenhouse facility proposed by North Country Growers LLC.

BERLIN — Although delayed, construction of two giant greenhouses that would employ 80 people and produce salad greens and tomatoes for customers throughout the Northeast, is moving forward with a groundbreaking set for April.

Last year, North Country Growers LLC, a subsidiary of American Ag Energy of Boston, received permission from the Berlin Planning Board to construct the greenhouses, which cumulatively measure about 10 acres on 172 acres of land on East Milan Road that is currently owned by the city.

North Country Growers has offered to buy that land for $680,000 and on Friday, Richard Rosen, the chief executive officer of American Ag Energy, said he expects that sale to be completed in March.

The project has previously received a $25 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development to build the greenhouses, which would annually produce some 15 million salad units and 8 million pounds of tomatoes.

The Berlin greenhouses would be very “green,” Rosen has said, because they would use waste heat and carbon dioxide from the production of electricity by generators using natural gas from a nearby Liberty Utility pipeline.

The company says it will recover rainwater, recycle nutrients and use predatory insects rather than pesticides to control insects.

After missing a September 2017 construction date, Rosen on Friday said a decision was made to move it forward to April “as soon as the weather changes.”

“We have commitments on our financing. That’s not the issue,” Rosen said.

“We had a delay in the transaction last year, which caused us to not want to start construction before April because we didn’t want to be involved in the mid-winter type of construction period.”

Rosen said the greenhouses will be operational by the end of 2018, adding that apart from the construction delay, the only change in the plan is that a slight expansion of the facility may take place earlier than later.

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