The Latest Farm-to-Table Trend
By Heather Hansman | October 15, 2012 | Sunset
Photograph by Erik Cutter
Large-scale ag. Family-owned farms. Urban community gardens. Now, food is going even more hyperlocal: welcome to the vertical farm.
This summer, Erik Cutter opened Alegría Fresh, the west coast’s first commercial hydroponic vertical farm because he wanted to give his community a small-scale way to get large amounts of greens.
Alegria Fresh sits on a quarter acre in Laguna Canyon, and uses 170 Verti-Gro towers, which stack plants to help them irrigate each other using minimal water and no soil or pesticides. On the tiny plot he grows 10,000 plants: enough kale, chard, and salad greens to feed the surrounding town for several days.
Right now, you can get greens delivered to your home if you’re a Laguna local, and Cutter says he plans to scale-up and build many more hydroponic vertical farms in Southern California. He says his model is a sustainable, resource efficient way to avoid the pitfalls of large scale agriculture, and to keep people in the west connected closely to their food source, especially important in the face of severe drought and climate change.
“We’re running out of water and healthy soil here in California, so hydroponic farming is a great way to grow superior produce using less resources,” he says.