Purple glow in sky traced to greenhouse lights

Kent County

GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A soft, purple glow that appeared to bounce off the clouds Monday night piqued the interest of many southern Kent County residents.

Described as a big purple circle in the sky, some joked it was alien in nature, but most described it as beautiful.

It turns out the mystery light came from a new, high-tech, 85,000-square-foot greenhouse on 76th Street near Hanna Lake Avenue southwest of Dutton. The glow was the result of special purple LED lights that can adjust to different spectrums to fit plants’ needs.

“I think we were a little bit surprised as to the reaction, but we understand it,” said Revolution Farms Chief Operating Officer Ben Kant, who added the farm wants to be a good neighbor.

The lights, which are part of the operation’s sustainable design, are currently in the testing phase. Kant said Monday was the only night they would be on. Normally, they’ll be on from sunrise to sunset during Michigan’s cloudy winter days.

Revolution Farms opened last month, using aquaponic technology to grow greens. The technique uses a process that combines tilapia with water to grow several varieties pesticide-free lettuce.

“This technology combines fish farming and hydroponics into a recirculating system. It’s a well-proven technology,” Kant explained to 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “Really, it’s a biological filtration process that occurs between the fish and the plants. So there’s a filtration step that creates a soluble nutrient.”

Kant said the fam’s process also improves food safety. In the wake of last week’s romaine lettuce E. coli scare, he explained that Revolution’s controlled environment prevents the contamination hazards present in traditional farms. 

“We go from seed to final product all in our facility,” Kant said.

The process is expected to create between 350,000 and 450,000 pounds of produce and between 35,000 and 45,000 pounds of tilapia annually, according to the company.

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