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Article: Thinking big, growing locally

By: John Howell


It could be a giant sculpture with its hundreds of white pillars symmetrically aligned to give passing motorists the impression of a flickering movie. But it’s not.

The artist behind the structure covering 25 acres off Route 2 in Exeter (who recites poetry from his high school days and talks about the individual rewards of work) is a farmer whose family name - Schartner - is synonymous with strawberry picking, pumpkins and sweet corn. What Tim Schartner is building he believes is not only the future of farming, good paying jobs, the salvation of Rhode Island farms that would otherwise be sold and subdivided for housing or shopping centers and most important nutritious locally grown food.

This, by no means, is a modest venture. Schartner, who is chairman and chief management officer of Rhode Island Grows LLC will have spent $61 million by the time this giant greenhouse, which is temporarily on hold, is operational. Nor is the projected production of this facility modest.

Schartner, who says he has 10-year-contracts with Sunset Foods to buy the beef steak tomatoes he will grow, expects one trailer truck of tomatoes to leave the greenhouse every day. That doesn’t sound extraordinary until Schartner breaks the truckload down to 42,000 pounds of tomatoes every day of the year. That’s more than 15 million pounds of tomatoes a year. These vine-ripened tomatoes will be delivered to restaurants and markets within hours of being picked, as compared to tomatoes grown in Mexico or Chile that have taken days and weeks to reach the northeast.


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Letter: It’s time for Rhode Island to be an agricultural leader

By: Tim Schartner


The Schartners came to America through Ellis Island in 1880 to pursue the American Dream and began farming the land in Rhode Island in the 1920’s. For over one hundred years, their vision was to offer their neighbors fresh food, locally grown, at a great price. It hasn’t always been easy, though. Local farms and farmers have dealt with a plethora of issues, and specific to us, a fire. And like a phoenix rising from the ashes – we are rising again. It’s a rebirth for Schartner’s Farm with a greenhouse being built and operated by my company, RI Grows. In Rhode Island, the best day to farm is July 27. Using controlled environment agriculture (CEA), advanced greenhouse technology, computer monitoring and robotic assistance, we can recreate July 27 every day. Imagine same day delivery of fresh produce, ripened right on the vine, instead of a tomato from outside the country on a two-week transit. We can do that – right here in Rhode Island. Utilizing CEA technology, the RI Grows greenhouse project will create 88 year-round, full-time jobs, with benefits and profit sharing. This will be a game changer for our employees – greatly improving their own ability to pursue the American Dream in Rhode Island. When complete, this will be the greenest farm project in the Northeast. We’ll need less land – 25 acres of greenhouse is the equivalent of a thousand field acres. We’ll collect 100% of rainwater, and only consume 2% of the water we would in a field. We’ll need less fertilizer and use no pesticides. We have blackout screens to capture over 99% of our supplemental lighting. When all is said and done, the greenhouse will produce a negative carbon footprint – the equivalent of taking 6,000 cars off the road. And, the best feature, in keeping with the rural character of the town, the greenhouse will appear to be a barn, with over 500 feet of field agricultural screening. We’ve partnered with URI and New England Tech to assist in implementing our state-of-the-art curriculum and technology. The farm, once again, will not only be the perfect site for field trips, but also a training site for school-aged children taking part in a STEM curriculum. Most importantly, we want to give back. When our farm burned down, the outpouring of support from the community and our neighbors was overwhelming. With this new project, we can once again provide food security with locally grown produce for our neighbors in need. Finally, I’m a farmer, not an investor. As a fourth generation farmer, I want this farm to be around for the next four generations in our community as a leader in agriculture.

Let’s do this, Rhode Island!



The View From Swamptown: Schartner’s Farm’s history is one centered on brotherhood

By: By G.T. Cranston Special to the Independent-December 12, 2021


Goings on at Schartner’s Farm, which straddles the line between Exeter and North Kingstown out on the South County Trail, have been in the news these days. A massive new greenhouse complex has got some folks up in arms. Tim Schartner, of Schartner Farm, recently had a well-written letter to the editor in this paper with just a mention of his family’s remarkable story. That story deserves a more complete telling; so here we go. You know, as soon as I began to research this column, I thought I had the gist of it all figured out in my head; of course, this was going to be a story about farmers. But as I delved into the ins and outs of it all, I realized I was wrong to a great degree. Why sure this is a story about farmers, but it’s also much more than that. It’s really a tale about the unbreakable bonds that exist between brothers; generation upon generation of brothers as a matter of fact. The story behind Schartner’s Farm is really all about determination, grit, perseverance, and the ties that bind brother to brother.

Tim Schartner betting big on his vision of the future of farming in RI

By: By Bill Seymour Special to the Independent-December 11, 2021


Timothy Schartner wants to be ahead of the curve with new trends in farming and he is betting that his 25-acre year-round greenhouse will put him there.

“This is the approach for the future, not just for us, but for other farmers as well and we want to make this available to them once we get ours up and running,” said Schartner, a long-time farmer.
He owns Rhode Island Grows and is partner in Schartner Farms, located partially in North Kingstown and also adjoining Exeter, where his greenhouse project is under construction.

He said he has taken a portion of his family’s farmland and put it under his company Rhode Island Grows. On that site he is building a massive glass greenhouse where he’ll grow tomatoes mostly for a wholesale distributor to supermarkets around the tri-state area.

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