Our lettuce and tomatoes are grown in water instead of soil. It’s called hydroponics — a practice that is gaining popularity (locally and around the world) as consumers expect more than just iceberg lettuce and flavorless tomatoes in their salads and on their sandwiches.
″For many years iceberg, also called head lettuce, reigned supreme. But according to Elizabeth Pivonka, a dietitian and president and chief executive of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, Romaine and Leaf Lettuce (Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Butter Lettuce and Bibb Lettuce) combined recently became the most consumed lettuces in the United States, followed by spinach. Collard greens, escarole, kale, mustard greens and turnip greens are consumed at much lower levels but are increasing. Source
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is modern day urban farming at its best. It’s what enables us to grow bigger, better, faster, and longer-lasting produce that tastes great!
Not only that, but we’re growing our lettuce and tomatoes in a soilless CEA — so it’s:
- Cleaner – chemical-free and disease-free from seed… to harvest… to delivery
- Fresher – lasts longer than 3 weeks
- Environmentally friendly – uses 10 times less water than produce grown in soil
- Grown year round – from farm to table in only 30 days in a climate-controlled greenhouse environment
- Safer – no E. coli and Salmonella contamination issues
- Healthier – it’s nutrient dense and better for you than traditional iceberg lettuce and storebought tomatoes
- Consistent in quality – 5,000 near-perfect heads of lettuce a month and 5,000 tasty pounds of tomatoes a month grown in the controlled environment of a greenhouse
Here’s a little more detail about the 7 ways that lettuce from Greenhouse Farms is different:
#1 – Our lettuce is cleaner.
Greenhouse Farms lettuce is grown using an exact combination of water and mineral nutrients only — no soil, no pesticides, and no preservatives of any kind. And we use only Non-GMO seeds. The land itself provides all of the clean water (from a well) that we need to grow the lettuce. Our well water is so pure and balanced that we don’t have to treat it with any additives or chemicals. And since there is absolutely no soil used in our growing process, you get the cleanest lettuce possible — with no need for triple-washing.
#2 – Our lettuce is fresher.
Greenhouse Farms lettuce is grown locally in Middle Tennessee and delivered to our customers within hours of being harvested. Since we keep the roots attached during harvest, the lettuce is still growing as it’s delivered to you as “living lettuce.” With the roots still attached, the lettuce stays fresher much longer. Living lettuce tastes better, is healthier for you, and lasts longer than traditional soil-grown lettuce — 4 times longer! Our lettuce is packed and shipped with its root system intact, so it’s unbelievably fresh and tasty when it gets to your fork.
#3 – Our lettuce is environmentally friendly.
Let us count the ways:
- We reuse water – our lettuce is grown hydroponically, by recirculating the nutrient-filled water that’s used to feed the plants. All of our water is recycled; nothing goes into the ground.
- We save time – we can grow lettuce in half the time that a traditional soil lettuce farmer needs to do the same thing. Hydroponically growing a head of lettuce from seedling to harvest takes 30 days — because hydroponic lettuce gets the perfect amount of nutrients, water, and oxygen. Growing a lead of lettuce in soil takes 60 days.
- We conserve resources – since our lettuce plants get the optimal amount of water and nutrients, they grow with more consistency and better quality while preserving resources — in a shorter amount of time.
- We are energy-efficient – by using the Earth’s natural sunlight instead of lights to grow (and heat) our lettuce plants inside the greenhouse, we’re saving energy.
- We use less space – we are able to grow the same amount of lettuce as a traditional soil-based farm that is 5 times the size. The footprint for a single greenhouse that can produce 5,000 heads of lettuce a month is only 44′ x 128′ or 5,642 square feet.
- We conserve water – our hydroponic irrigation techniques optimize water usage — giving the lettuce plants precisely what they need while conserving this valuable resource. Hydroponic crops require 10 times less water than the same crops grown in soil — so we’re using 90% less water than traditional soil lettuce farmers.
- We use sustainable, low-impact methods – our greenhouses control the environmental conditions during hot summers and cold winters, and act as a barrier to insects of all kinds. In addition, the nutrient levels and environmental factors for ideal lettuce production are monitored and adjusted 24/7 through sensors attached to a computer. The computer measures and dispenses the exact amount of nutrients required, as the tank calls for it. We never touch it — eliminating the chances of human error. As a result, near perfect heads of lettuce are consistently produced.
- We reduce waste – by controlling environment inside our greenhouses as well as the disbursement of an exact mix of mineral nutrients & water to the lettuce plants, there is little to no chance of disease throughout the growing process. Also, by delivering “living lettuce” to consumers, there is virtually no waste involved in the harvesting of our lettuce.
- We are planet-friendly – our hydroponic growing system produces the most nutritious lettuce possible, and it’s done in a way that preserves our planet’s resources for future generations.
- We reduce food miles – our lettuce comes from right here in Tennessee instead of being shipped from other parts in the U.S. or Mexico, so we’re making it easier for the community to buy local and eat local.
- We produce healthy food – Since no chemicals are used when growing our lettuce, it’s better for both your body and the environment.
- We are committed to buying local & eating local – Our lettuce is grown naturally and enjoyed locally. Buy local… think global.
#4 – Our lettuce is grown year-round.
People want fresh lettuce all year round. However, local lettuce is hard to find during the summer months; the heat kills it. Hydroponic lettuce doesn’t face such challenges. Technology, combined with our specialized greenhouses, make it possible for us to consistently grow lettuce in the Middle Tennessee area 365 days a year — regardless of what the weather is like outside. In our climate-controlled environment, nutrient-dense lettuce grows faster and larger than traditional (or even organic) lettuce that is grown in soil. From “farm to table” the growth process is only 30 days to turn 5,000 heads of lettuce. At Greenhouse Farms, lettuce is in season all year long!
#5 – Our lettuce is safer.
Greenhouse Farms lettuce plants are raised in a contained environment with no harmful chemicals, no pollutants, and no environmental contaminants — like dirt or bird droppings. And we don’t have the same worries about E. coli and Salmonella contamination that soil farmers have. (Field grown lettuce is inherently dirty with grit and insects, so there is always a risk of contamination by microorganisms such as E. coli and Salmonella. Not so with hydroponic farming.) The bottom line: at Greenhouse Farms we’re committed to food safety because our friends & family eat this lettuce — and so do we!
#6 – Our lettuce is healthier.
Living lettuce is healthier for you than traditional iceberg lettuce because it’s nutrient dense — meaning it’s very rich in nutrients for the amount of calories it contains. Also, since no chemicals are used when growing our hydroponic lettuce, it’s better for your body and the environment.
#7 – Our lettuce production is consistent.
Thanks to the controlled greenhouse environment and closely monitored water & nutrient disbursement, we are able to consistently harvest 5,000 near-perfect heads of lettuce each month. It is this exact mix of mineral nutrients and water that makes hydroponically grown lettuce consistently nutritious and flavorful. Also, there is much less potential for disease — because the tops of the plants remain dry at all times. Since the lettuce plants are not getting hit with rain, wind, or hail (all things that can disperse disease organisms), disease is much more manageable in a hydroponic system.
In summary, the hydroponic process yields nutrient-dense, fresh living lettuce year round that is grown responsibly to reduce our carbon footprint in the heart of Tennessee.