January 15, 2012

Owner sure Windham greenhouse project will proceed

John der Kinderen says his backer has a model for ultra-efficient greenhouses.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

John der Kinderen

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Boston lettuce grows on floating raft technology in China in a facility similar to the one that John der Kinderen of Arundel hopes to build at Sebago Farms in Windham.

Courtesy photo

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"We are very committed to job creation. That's a critical piece of this," said Deb Neuman, deputy commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

It also offers a chance for Maine to be at the forefront of a new use of technology.

While there's nothing ground-breaking about hydroponic vegetables or indoor aquaculture, der Kinderen said, this would be the first facility in the United States to have both at one location.

One benefit is that parts of the fish that are normally discarded can be processed in a bioreactor to make high-quality fertilizer for the vegetables, der Kinderen said.

That's just a piece of the high-tech, renewable energy system on which the facility would operate.

The use of "ultimate efficiency" natural gas engines that would keep power costs down is an important part of making the project viable, der Kinderen said. Another is the demand for natural products that come from nearby.

"Throughout the region, there's a tremendous demand for more locally produced foods," said Russell Libby, executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

Although hydroponic foods are not considered organic, Libby said, he believes "the notion is a good one, of growing more food in the region year-round."

Der Kinderen, who would be a part owner of Sebago Farms, said he wouldn't have a hand in the management of the business. Once he gets the facility up and running, he plans to replicate the model in other parts of the state. He said he's already started looking for sites in central Maine.

But for now, it's about getting through the regulatory process for the Windham project as quickly as possible. Although the work has gone smoothly so far, as a longtime member of the Arundel Planning Board, der Kinderen knows there may be snags along the way.

He said there's one other BioSyn project -- in Livingston, Tenn. -- that's at about the same place in the process as Sebago Farms.

Aside from starting to see the investment in the project pay off, that's a major motivating factor for der Kinderen.

"I want Maine to be No. 1," he said. 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:



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