JetBlue Airways opens its own farm outside JFK's Terminal 5 growing potatoes

There had been fears that a farm would attract more birds that could get sucked up in plane's engines on take-off, leading to the pilot having to make an emergency landing or even crash. Farmer Katrina Ceguera tending her crops outside JetBlue Airwa
  • The 24,000 square-foot farm will mainly be used to grow blue potatoes - that be made into Terra Blues potato chips, the airline's signature snack
  • There had been fears that a farm would attract more birds that could get caught up in plane's engines 
  • But birds are not interested in the blue potato crops
  • The airline will also grow carrots, beets, arugula and herbs that are not attractive to birds either
  • It hopes to use compost made from leftover food at restaurants in T5

JetBlue Airways has opened its very own farm at Terminal 5 at JFK airport in New York to grow potatoes for its signature snack - the Terra Blues chips.

Luckily the vegetable doesn't attract birds - because the airline has been banned from growing any crop that does.

There had been fears that a farm would attract more birds that could get sucked up in plane's engines on take-off, leading to the pilot having to make an emergency landing or even crash.

Farmer Katrina Ceguera tending her crops outside JetBlue Airways' Terminal 5 building at JFK in New York

The airline has developed a 24,000 square-foot space for growing a range of crops that won't attract birds 

The airline has developed a 24,000 square-foot space for growing a range of crops that won't attract birds 

The airline hopes that eventually it may be allowed to introduce bees and butterflies to the farm

The airline hopes that eventually it may be allowed to introduce bees and butterflies to the farm

So JetBlue is sticking to the blue potatoes, as well as herbs, beets, carrots and arugula, that are not attractive to birds. It plans to produce more than 1,000 pounds of blue potatoes with each crop.

The 'T5 Farm' is being developed outside at JetBlue's Terminal 5, in collaboration with GrowNYC, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the brand behind the airline's signature chip, Terra Blues.

JetBlue claims that their farm is not designed to feed their passengers but to act as an education tool and to improve the environment around the terminal building. 

However, it admitted that some of the produce might make it into the restaurants in the terminal building as well as their blue potato Terra Chips that are served on board the aircraft.

They also said they would like to introduce bees and butterflies to their farm, but this would require the permission of airport authorities who are conscious of the avian menace.  

JetBlue's head of sustainability Sophia Leonora Mendelsohn said: 'We know people like green space. It's what they have at home. Why not put that at an airport if that's what they love and want?

'Your flying experience starts on the ground.'

JetBlue said some of the produce will be served inside their terminal restaurants and aircraft

JetBlue said some of the produce will be served inside their terminal restaurants and aircraft

The airline worked for three years with airport authorities to receive permission to open their farm. They are banned from growing corn, tomatoes, berries, seeds and sunflowers because they might attract birds. 

However, potatoes, chives, basil, carrots and many herbs are safe. 

The airline has around 1,000 potato plants and believes they could produce up to a tonne of spuds every year.

Some of the herbs and produce will be used by restaurants in JetBlue's terminal, others will be donated to local food banks.

The airline already routinely sends leftovers from the restaurants in T5 to be composted at a New York farm - some of the enriched soil will eventually be used on the T5 farm at the airport. 

All of the plants are grown in plastic milk crates that are bolted together and then tied to hooks in the cement floor. The structure is designed to withstand 160 mph hurricane-force winds, another requirement of the airport's operator, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

For its first few months, the farm will be closed to the public. Then in the spring, pending approval from various regulators, JetBlue hopes to have educational programs for local students. Eventually, the airline envisions allowing some of its fliers to sign up in advance for visits. 

Birds were blamed for the crash of US Airways 1549 in January 2009, which hit a flock of Canada geese as it climbed out of LaGuardia airport. The Airbus A320 lost both engines, forcing the pilot Chelsey 'Sully' Sullenberger to ditch the aircraft on the Hudson River. 

 
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By Mathias Dillion 10/09/2015 14:06:00