New, Organic Indoor Farm in Colorado Announces Two New Hires

 New, Organic Indoor Farm in Colorado Announces Two New Hires

A look into the largest, fully-automated greenhouse growing organic greens in the Intermountain West

SILT, CO., October 18, 2021 Spring Born, a 2.5-acre organic greenhouse in Colorado, welcomes two industry experts to their team. The company introduced Danielle Davis, director of marketing and sales, and Josh Budka, head grower, to spearhead production and expansion. 

Davis and Budka are industry experts in their respective fields. Davis, is a food systems, marketing, and sales expert with more than a decade of experience within fresh produce, meat and seafood. In addition, she is well-versed in Controlled Environment Agriculture “CEA,” previously leading a food business consulting agency and working for other high-tech farms. Budka, head grower, holds a Horticulture Science degree from Purdue University. Before joining Spring Born, he worked at various indoor farming operations and conducted research for universities and governmental agencies.

“We are very excited to welcome Danielle and Josh to our team at Spring Born. They both provide a different perspective and expertise for the business and are passionate about food production methods that better our food system and lead to thriving agricultural communities,” says Charles Barr, owner and president.

Spring Born’s initial retail and foodservice offerings are grown in organic peat (unique in the CEA industry) using 90 percent less water than large-scale outdoor farms. Spring Born is the largest, fully-automated and USDA-certified organic indoor farm in the Intermountain West. Spring Born is different in the CEA space, being wholly owned and operated by President and Owner, Charles Barr. This proprietorship allows the company flexibility in product development and responsiveness to customers without sign-off from additional stakeholders. 

“We’ve just finished tweaking the environment and testing various cultivars to determine which we want to grow in our greenhouse,” says Budka.

“We’re listening and reacting to the ever-changing customer and consumer needs,” says Davis. “I think using natural sunlight and an organic soil medium to grow greens just makes sense – we’re having fun wowing customers and cooks with the freshness and flavor of our greens.”

Spring Born greens are available for distribution today. Learn more about Spring Born at www.springborn.us or by emailing info@springborn.us

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Spring Born – no hype, all reality

“I wanted to build a business that doesn’t overpromise”

Located on a 254-acre ranch in Silt, Colorado, Spring Born is a newly established greenhouse company that will be providing organic leafy greens to the Denver market. Spring Born currently has 2.5 acres under glass and another 1.5 acres for processing, with a fully automated production system provided by Green Automation.

Spring Born: no hype, all reality
Spring Born is a state-of-the-art greenhouse company newly established in Silt, Colorado and wholly owned by entrepreneur Charles Barr. This, according to Charles, allows the company to be more responsive to the customer and turn on a dime if needed rather than responding to other stakeholders.

“I want to be a business that doesn’t overpromise, which we see a lot of with greenhouses owned by venture capital or publicly traded companies that make promises before being established. These companies need to respond to other stakeholders before the consumer,” Charles says.

As Charles explains, many newer greenhouse companies build websites and introduce themselves before construction has even begun in order to generate interest and attract investors. This can make it confusing to discern between companies in the design, construction or operational stages. With Spring Born, Charles is avoiding that approach by not making announcements until the greenhouse is absolutely ready to deliver.

“I certainly have plans for Spring Born but I won’t be putting anything out there until we have something concrete. We’re not selling an idea; Spring Born is no hype, all reality,” explains Charles.

“We are planting every seed we can get our hands on”
Spring Born has seeded its first crop in its greenhouse to ensure that all systems are working properly. According to Charles, the company is seeding every variety imaginable to test their assumptions and to determine the products that consumers want.

“We have 62 varieties in the greenhouse right now. We’ll be offering a baby leaf, cut product with leaves that are 100-110 mm long with high flavor and high nutritional quality. We’ll be shipping 10,000 packages every day, mostly to foodservice and retailers,” Charles explains.

Spring Born’s 4.5-oz packages will be coming off the production line within the next three weeks. Consumers will be able to purchase greens directly from the farm, but most of the sales will be to retailers and foodservice.

 Promoting sustainability and local food systems
Spring Born is driven by sustainability both in an operational and environmental sense. Operationally, complete automation from seeding to packaging allows Spring Born to significantly reduce labor requirements within the greenhouse and improve hygiene throughout the system. From an environmental standpoint, Spring Born will be certified organic from the moment its first packages hit the shelves.

While many companies frame controlled environment agriculture as an alternative form of agriculture, Charles explains that Spring Born is adding another dimension to local food systems and not trying to supplant field-based agriculture. Spring Born is located on a 254-acre ranch which also plans to plant fruit trees to further develop the local food ecosystem.

Spring Born also strives to be as good a neighbor as possible by ensuring that greenhouse operations are not a nuisance to the region. For example, Spring Born will use HPS lighting during low-light periods but has installed shade curtains and will be lighting in the middle of the night when people are sleeping.

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Author: Rose Seguin
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Spring Born’s Inaugural Planting Has Begun

Spring Born’s Inaugural Planting Has Begun

Spring Born’s entire first harvest to be donated to local food banks

SILT, CO., August 9, 2021 — Spring Born, an organic hydroponic farm, kicked off production inside their Silt, Colorado facility.  Their first harvest will be donated entirely to a local food bank, The Food Bank of the Rockies.

“We are testing around 50 varieties to ensure that we bring the highest quality and most unique flavors to the market,” says Josh Budka, head grower. “We are excited to work with our customers to determine the best varieties to fit their needs.”

Spring Born’s conveniently packaged leafy greens and salad blends are sustainably grown using less land, water, and emissions than outdoor farming. The 2.5-acre greenhouse will produce up to 10,000 packages per day, 360 days a year, utilizing a state-of-the-art, hands-free, automated production.

“Everyone deserves fresh, healthy food. I’m proud to be a long-term partner to our communities’ food banks,” says Charles Barr, president. “Our neighbors are very supportive of the business, and it’s Spring Born’s responsibility to support our neighbors.”

Spring Born’s donations will continue well beyond the first harvest. With an average cycle of 21 days, the company will give a percentage of each planting to various food banks in the Denver, CO, area. Learn more about Spring Born at www.springborn.us or by emailing info@springborn.us

Perishable News: https://www.perishablenews.com/produce/spring-borns-inaugural-planting-has-begun/ 

Daily Advent: https://www.dailyadvent.com/news/f07e0dac9420a3dffbeb13a1a71a90ac-Spring-Borns-Inaugural-Planting-Has-Begun

HortiDaily: https://www.hortidaily.com/article/9343496/us-hydroponic-farm-donates-first-harvest-to-food-bank/

Cutting-Edge Greenhouse Opens Doors in Colorado

Cutting-Edge Greenhouse Opens Doors in Colorado

Spring Born to sustainably grow organic leafy greens to support the local community                                 

SILT, CO., June 1, 2021 — Spring Born, a 3.5-acre indoor hydroponic farm, is breaking ground in the CEA industry. The company is one of the first leafy green greenhouses in Colorado to undergo USDA Organic Certification. Spring Born products will be available for retail distribution starting August 2021.

“Spring Born combines innovative technologies and hardworking individuals that, when put together, provide fresh, healthy, quality greens better than anyone on the market,” says Charles Barr, president. “We care about the state of our environment and building sustainable practices that leave a lasting impact on our local community. Our company looks forward to supporting the community with nourishment but also economically with jobs and added business.”

Their advanced technology supports an efficient and sustainable environment for the greens and the local community. All products are grown and packed hands-free, pesticide-free, and use significantly less land and water than farm fields. The indoor farm grows, packs and distributes products directly from the greenhouse to support a long shelf life of 14 days at retail.

“Our greens are grown in a protected environment, not susceptible to the risk of harsh natural elements,” Barr stated. “Spring Born promises unique varieties with consistent quality and supply year-round.”

With consumer preferences in mind, Spring Born currently offers four unique varieties available in standard retail and club-pack sizes. Spring Born will open its doors for tours and variety testing in July 2021. Please contact info@springborn.us or learn more at www.springborn.us.

And Now U Know: https://www.andnowuknow.com/shop-talk/spring-born-unveils-usda-organic-certified-greenhouse-colorado-charles-barr/chandler-james/73761

The Packer: https://www.thepacker.com/news/organic/colorado-indoor-farm-spring-born-goes-organic

HortiDaily: https://www.hortidaily.com/article/9326559/our-company-will-supply-nourishment-and-jobs-to-the-region/

Proposed Statehouse Bill Could Benefit Silt Greenhouse

A Colorado state legislator plans to introduce a bill that would expand the definition of a farm and agricultural products to the benefit of a new greenhouse facility in Silt.

Sponsored by Rep. Dylan Roberts, the bill that is currently in draft form would include a “controlled environment agricultural facility,” or CEAF, in the definition of a farm, allowing these facilities to be taxed at a lower rate than they would be if they were classified as commercial.

That’s good news for entrepreneur Charles Barr, who is constructing a 113,400-square-foot, mostly automated greenhouse — which he has dubbed Spring Born — along the Colorado River to grow leafy salad greens. This is the first foray into agriculture for the San Francisco-based businessman. He bought the 254-acre parcel in October 2019 for $1.5 million.

Most of that land — minus 11 acres he has taken out of production to build the facility — is leased to a local rancher and remains in traditional agricultural production growing hay and raising cows. The greenhouse and accompanying warehouse/processing buildings cover 3.5 acres of the parcel.

Barr originally had planned to build the greenhouse, in conjunction with a geothermal power plant, in Gunnison County. When that location fell through, he moved the greenhouse, minus the geothermal project, to Silt.

The plan is to grow lettuce in a sustainable, efficient, pesticide-free way year-round, all while using less water than traditional outdoor agriculture. Once water enters the greenhouse, it’s nearly 100% consumptive, meaning the plants will use it all. The lettuce would be packaged and shipped for sale in grocery stores.

“If I can do that using 95% less water, then let’s do that,” Barr said, referencing his operation’s internal calculations regarding water consumption. “Why not grow the lettuce here instead of letting that water trickle all the way down to Arizona and grow the lettuce there and truck it all the way up here.”

The Spring Born greenhouse, under construction in Silt, is seen from a hill behind the property. State legislators plan to introduce a bill that would include automated operations such as this in the definition of a farm and agricultural products, which allow them to qualify for tax breaks.
Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

Barr and proponents of the project say that with climate change increasing temperatures, which in turn increases the amount of water crops need, the future of growing food is indoors. Gail Schwartz, a former state senator and current Colorado Water Conservation Board representative for the Colorado River mainstem, has been involved in helping bring the greenhouse and the bill to fruition.

“I was in an energy conference in Norway last year, and they said by 2050 virtually all of our food will be grown in facilities like this because of climate change,” she said. “We have to control the temperatures and the aridity that is going to impact agriculture long term, and this does that.”

The greenhouse will create about 20 jobs and plans to partner with Colorado Mountain College for a work-training program. Schwartz added that Spring Born could soon take advantage of a rural Jump Start tax-credit program, which is expected to soon be approved in Garfield County. It would allow businesses to apply for a four-year personal property tax exemption from the county.

“In the midst of the COVID pandemic and economic fallout, we are looking for any way we can at the state legislature to incentivize economic development in rural Colorado and the bill seems a great way to do that,” Roberts said.

In the soil of the land

Currently, under Colorado law, if a crop is not grown “in the soil of the land” — for example, in pots or planters, or in hydroponic gutters such as those at Spring Born — it is not considered an agricultural product for the purpose of tax exemptions. Since Spring Born won’t grow greens in the ground itself, that technicality doesn’t allow it to be classified as a farm or the lettuce it produces as an agricultural product.

The value of agricultural land is tied to the productivity of the land — not what the land would sell for on the open market — and owners pay much less in taxes than do owners of commercial properties. Including food produced in a greenhouse in the definition of an agricultural product would allow Barr to save about $250,000 a year in property taxes, according to his attorney David Myler.

“We think the state should incentivize it because of all the benefits,” Myler said. “Essentially, we think we are a farm and we would like to be treated like a farm.”

According to a draft of the bill, hemp- and marijuana-grow operations would not be included in the expanded definition, nor would facilities of less than 10,000 square feet. Roberts, a Democrat whose House District 26 includes Eagle and Routt counties, said last week that he expects to introduce the bill in the next few weeks. Rep. Perry Will, a Republican representing House District 57 which includes the greenhouse site, did not respond to questions about the proposal

This 113,400-square-foot, automated Spring Born greenhouse being built in Silt will grow leafy greens. Owner Charles Barr says the operation will use less water than growing crops outdoors.
Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

Water use

Although growing lettuce inside uses less water than it would outside with sprinkler or flood irrigation, Spring Born won’t use the water rights that came with the land Barr purchased to grow greenhouse lettuce.

These water rights — 4 cubic feet per second from the Rising Sun Ditch, which draws from the Colorado River — are still being used to grow hay outside during the summer months. But those irrigation rights can only be used during irrigation season, roughly from late April through October. To grow crops in a greenhouse year-round, Barr will use water from three new wells that he is digging for the project.

The project has an augmentation plan for 25 acre-feet of water from the West Divide Water Conservancy District to replace the water to the Colorado River system and downstream users that it will be using from the well, according to Barr’s water attorney Chris Geiger of Glenwood Springs-based Balcomb & Green.

Proposal raises questions

While most people interviewed for this story were supportive of the CEAF concept, some raised questions about the proposal. Kathryn Bedell is a commissioner for the state agricultural commission for District 4, which includes Garfield County. She doesn’t see a problem with including CEAFs under the definitions of farm and agricultural products, as long as the purpose of the facility is to grow food for people. But if it was up to her, she would change one key point of the bill.

“I think the 10,000-square-foot (minimum) is actually too big, and I would like to see that amended lower,” she said. “To me, that’s catering to big business.”

Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico said that while growing vegetables is admirable and the technology is awesome, Spring Born is not a farm and should not be valued as such.

“If it were up to me, I would look at this for what it is — a food-growing facility — and propose a new valuation methodology within the agricultural classification,” he said in an email.

Yellico also noted that it seems, for now, that Spring Born is the first and only automated greenhouse in Colorado that this change in the law would apply to.

“My issue is it’s only going to benefit a few people at this time,” he said. “It fits the bill of a special-interest bill.”

But proponents are hoping that if the state creates a tax incentive, Spring Born won’t be alone for long and that more farmers will follow in Barr’s footsteps. They say the bill, if it becomes law, could create an opportunity for traditional agricultural producers to diversify their business by adding a CEAF to their operation.

“I think, as a legislator, I strive to legislate for not just one specific project but to create future opportunities in this field and I think Spring Born will show others in Colorado this is a viable operation,” Roberts said.

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union hasn’t yet taken an official position on the bill, but Dan Waldvogle, director of external affairs, said the organization supports agriculture taxes that are based on productivity.

“I do think that we want to create a future where there are options,” he said. “With the effects of climate change and drought, there could be a need in the future for some of these operations to pivot when you meet that break-even point.”

Link: https://www.aspentimes.com/news/proposed-statehouse-bill-could-benefit-silt-greenhouse/

Town Hall Speaker Series: The Future of Farming in Rural Colorado