By Jon Cronin
JetBlue had JFK Airport travelers seeing green when they premiered their 25,000 square foot airport produce and herb farm at the JetBlue Terminal 5 on a warm, sunny October morning.
At the T5 opening last Thursday, Joanna Geraghty, executive vice president of customer experience, said, “I think some people were envisioning a window box with a few flowers.”
JetBlue calls itself “New York’s Hometown Airline” and Geraghty echoed the sentiment, “It’s about how we give back,” and adding, “it’s about so much more than a flight.”
She said JetBlue likes to think of themselves as, “a company with a moral compass.”
The project was a joint enterprise by JetBlue and Terra Brand potato chips, who make the signature blue chips served on JetBlue’s flights. The blue potatoes, along with lettuce and herbs are being grown in the T5 Farm and some of those T5 potatoes will make it into the Terra potato chips on JetBlue flights.
The 25,000 square foot space is located to the left of the departure’s entrance and is not your typical acres of fertile soil farm. There are about two dozen rows of plastic crates on top of raised beds sitting on the concrete.
JetBlue partnered on this project with GrowNYC Partners and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. GrowNYC is an environmental non-profit that aids in the agricultural growth in New York City. GrowNYC Partners is the consultancy arm of GrowNYC and returns its profits to the non-profit agency.
The produce, which was farmed by GrownNYC on Governor’s Island, will be made available to T5’s restaurants, local food pantries and JetBlue employees. There will be a GrowNYC full-time farmer on-hand at the T5 Farm.
The farm was the brainchild of Sophia Mendohlson, head of sustainability at JetBlue. She said in the future the farm will be open to the public and noted that many urban children don’t have a connection to where their food is grown and this could be part of that educational opportunity. She encouraged everyone at the press conference to take some of the growing herbs with them, “If you see it, you can pick it.”
Executive Director of GrowNYC Marcel Van Ooyen said, “Many of come to airports to get away from the Earth,” but now people will come to learn about it. “I don’t know any other airline that has made sustainability a priority,” he added.
Some of the GrowNYC farmers suspect that growth at the T5 farm will be extended four to five weeks because of the heat from the sun reflected by the concrete and the windows at the terminal.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin