Wellspring Breaks Ground on Springfield’s First Production Greenhouse

Lettuce, greens and herbs will soon be growing at the former blighted land where Chapman Valve once stood in the Indian Orchard neighborhood of Springfield, MA.

Wellspring Harvest, Springfield’s first production greenhouse, is a project of the Wellspring Cooperative Corporation, a Springfield-based nonprofit co-directed by School of Public Policy lecturer Fred Rose.

UMass Amherst is a founding anchor institution and continuing participant in Wellspring’s work.

Emily Kawano co-directs Wellspring with Rose. M.V. Lee Badgett, professor of economics and former director of the UMass Center for Public Policy and Administration (now the School of Public Policy), co-chairs the Wellspring Cooperative Corporation board.

The groundbreaking event on June 8th showcased the planned construction of the 15,120 square foot greenhouse, which will produce an estimated 250,000 plants per year.

Key customers for the greenhouse currently include Baystate Medical Center, Springfield and Worcester Public Schools, Big Y Supermarkets, food coops in Greenfield and Northampton, and Squash Trucking.

Wellspring Harvest will also be a hub of community engagement and education about sustainable urban agriculture and healthy food access and cooking.

Speakers at the June 8 event included:

  • Lee Badgett (UMass Professor of Economics)
  • Orlando Ramos (President of the Springfield City Council)
  • Stephen Hilyard (Wellspring Harvest Greenhouse Manager)
  • Zaida Govan (President of the Indian Orchard Citizens Council)
  • Kevin Barry (Produce purchaser, Big Y Supermakers)
  • John Waite (President of PV Grows Investment Fund and Executive Director, Franklin County CDC)

A reception followed the groundbreaking at the Greater New Life Christian Center in Indian Orchard.

Wellspring Harvest is one of several current and planned for-profit, worker-owned cooperative businesses designed to provide employment for low-income residents in Springfield and help them build personal and community assets.

More about Wellspring is available here. A recent story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about Wellspring and the local cooperative movement, written by UMass and Wellspring affiliates Boone Shear and Brendan Tierney, can be accessed here.