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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Sid Wainer & Son Co. Greenhouse - New Bedford, MA
(April 2006)

Programs: EPA Targeted Brownfield Assessment & EPA Assessment Grant
Grant Recipient: City of New Bedford (contacts)
Summary:  In the center of an inner-city neighborhood, where an old industrial site was assessed and cleaned up, commercial greenhouses now flourish.

Click to enlarge photo

The old industrial site was once part of the former Taber Mill textile manufacturing complex. A single story manufacturing building formerly located on the site was constructed prior to 1906, and served as a weave mill for Taber Mill until the 1940s. After that, a manufacturer of cardboard boxes and paper products, Alden Corrugated, moved to the site in 1947 and operated until 1991. In 1995, the building was destroyed by fire, and was subsequently demolished. After demolition, significant quantities of unprocessed demolition debris remained in the basement of the former building, and four abandoned underground storage tanks containing petroleum product remained on the south portion of the site.

Click to enlarge photo

In 1999, the City was awarded a $65,000 EPA Targeted Brownfield Assessment to conduct an environmental assessment of the property. Based on the results of that assessment, the City conducted additional investigated further using $63,000 from an EPA Brownfield Assessment grant. Environmental assessment activities revealed that the soil, commingled with unprocessed construction and demolition debris, was contaminated with lead and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons.

In 2003, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection funded the removal of underground storage tanks from the south lot. Also, the City of New Bedford excavated approximately 30,000 cubic yards and backfilled with clean fill, at a cost of $500,000. To facilitate redevelopment, the City subdivided the entire site into 3 lots. The northern most lot (.42 acres) was sold to an abutting business to promote expansion. The center lot (2.8 acres) and southern lot (.65 acre) were retained by the City.

Click to enlarge photo

The center site has been redeveloped by Sid Wainer & Son Co., a wholesaler, importer, exporter, distributor, and grower of specialty produce and gourmet specialties. The company originated in New Bedford in 1914, and is still headquartered in the city, with annual sales of approximately $120 million. Sid Wainer & Sons Co. has earned a national reputation as one of the most prominent importers and growers of specialty produce and specialty foods.

To support the demand for specialty items, the company constructed and operates three 3,000 square foot greenhouses on the property. The greenhouses enable experimentation with both year-round greenhouse operation and inner-city farming techniques. A variety of vegetables are grown in the greenhouses, including heirlooms and other varieties not typically grown in the northeast.

Photo of vegetables


  • 1995: The old industrial building on the site burned down.

  • 1999: EPA awards Targeted Brownfields Assessment.

  • 2003: Cleanup began.

  • Dec. 2004:  Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new greenhouses.

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