A small family farm in Laurens County, Georgia is growing hydroponic lettuce. The Monitor’s Ryan Naquin reports.
“The greenhouse can grow 3,100 heads of lettuce at once. A head takes about six weeks to reach maturity. Seeds are sprouted in trays of rock wool – blocks of man-made mineral fibers — then transferred to the nursery section at the rear of the greenhouse. Two weeks later, they’re transplanted to the white trays that carry the water and serve as their beds.
A computer regulates the proper balance of nutrients and the pH balance of the water, which runs into a 500-gallon underground tank before being fed into the growing trays. The underground tank helps keep the water cool.
The computer monitors the water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also helps regulate the temperature and humidity in the greenhouse, with relay switches to increase air flow and circulation and to cover the entire structure with a “shade cloth” to cool things down”.
The Edwardses grow two types of lettuce — Bibb and a spring mix — that are sold in four midstate Kroger grocery stores under the name “Living Fresh R&G Farm.” The lettuce is also served in a handful of area restaurants, such as Natalia’s, Fountain of Juice, The Back Burner and Joe’s Ravioli in Macon and Blackbird Coffee in Dublin Georgia
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