Frequently Asked Questions
What is hydroponic farming?
Hydroponic farming is a way to grow plants without soil. Instead of soil, the roots grow in water, or a growing medium with water flowing through it. Of course, plants need more than just water, so hydroponic farmers supplement the water with all the required nutrients and minerals.
Hydroponic systems are especially awesome for indoor farms like ours. They let us grow happier plants with a tiny environmental footprint. Our farm’s vertical hydroponics and closed-loop irrigation means we can grow the same amount of strawberries as traditional farms while using 90% less water and land area. Beyond operating super efficiently, we can also properly dispose of leftover water and nutrients, so they will never pollute waterways, which is a common problem among conventional farms.
Why not use soil?
Soil is a complex substance with remarkable properties that some plants simply cannot live without. Fortunately for us, strawberries and some other crops not only survive, but grow better without it. That’s mainly because soil carries plant pests and diseases. Many strawberry growers fumigate their soils with harsh chemicals to destroy potential pests and protect their plants. Unfortunately, they often have to apply pesticides later on anyway.
Instead of soil, our plants grow in a matrix made out of recycled water bottles, and they get their water and nutrients delivered by a hydroponic system. This system optimizes air flow and root growth, which prevents root diseases. We can prevent waterborne pest outbreaks by keeping the hydroponic solutions filtered and sterilized without harming the environment.
Even if it were the perfect substrate, soil is not an infinite resource. In fact, vast quantities of arable soil are lost each year due mainly to conventional agriculture methods. Although soil is technically renewable, it takes decades to centuries for significant amounts to regenerate. We believe in reserving soil for the crops that really need it.
Are hydroponic fruits as healthy as traditional ones?
Yes! Our strawberries are just as safe as typical conventionally -grown berries. And, unlike conventional berries, ours are never sprayed with manure or pesticides.
Where do indoor plants get their light?
We use LEDs to provide the plants with all the light they need to produce sweet berries. Lighting technology is advancing rapidly, and LEDs can already replicate what plants need from sunlight. Unlike with sunlight, we can tweak the spectrum to increase leaf growth (say for herbs) or stimulate flower and fruit production. Our LEDs are among the most energy-efficient, which helps us to reduce our energy consumption.
How are your plants pollinated?
Strawberry plants need to be pollinated in order to produce fruit, so we opt for nature’s solution – we let a bumblebee workforce do all the pollinating for us. We introduce beehives into our farm and give the bees all they need to coexist happily with our crop.
Do you grow other fruits and vegetables?
For now, we only grow strawberries. We have plans to test other fruit, like groundcherries, blueberries and raspberries. Keep an eye out for our herbs and kale, which we hope to make available soon.
Do you use GMOs?
No, we do not.
How do you grow without chemical pesticides?
We grow in sealed rooms, which we always keep super clean. We also enlist the help of beneficial bugs. These bugs are the natural enemies of the pests we encounter, and their job is to prevent pests from developing in the first place. The need for pesticides is thus eliminated. In the event of an outbreak, we would use higher amounts of good guy bugs. As a last resort, we might use an organic pest-killing compound like soap, although we haven’t had to yet!
Are you certified organic?
No. We are not considered organic due to the mineral blend we use as fertilizer. Rest assured that this does not mean our method is less safe or sustainable than organic methods. It simply reflects the fact that we fortify our water with minerals and nutrients in their pure form, rather than fish emulsion or chicken manure.