A Hydroponic Twist on the Family Farm
October 18, 2016 | Dave Fidlin
Quickley Produce Farm represents a modern take on the family farm. It’s not a farm that has been passed down from one generation to the next, but rather a newly formed high-tech hydroponic farming operation run by four generations of family members.
Located in Galena, Missouri in the heart of the Ozarks, the farm, which officially took root in 2011, is run by David and Terry Quick. The couple’s daughter, Alisa Welch, and son-in-law, Russ Welch, play a pivotal role in day-to-day operations, and their three children — Dusty, Dawson and Bristol – lend a hand. Terry’s mom, Pauline Hedrick, also pitches in to make the farm a true family affair.
The family’s lineage points to a strong background in farming and gardening, but more recent generations had been working in a different trade: construction. That all changed in 2008 when the economy began to slow.
“We were looking for something at that time that’s economy-proof,” says Alisha Welch. “People don’t always need a concrete patio, but people always need to eat.”
The family considered various business models and farming techniques before deciding that hydroponic growing was the way to go. The ability to grow off-season, and in particular the space saving efficiency of hydroponic farming appealed to them.
“We don’t have the space to put out acres of crops,” Alisha says. “Our land is not used for pasture, so that’s another reason we considered hydroponics.”
Since starting out, the family has experienced both the benefits and challenges of farming hydroponically. Alisha readily notes that there is a steep learning curve when it comes to employing a new, high-tech farming method.
“Every day presents a new, unique set of challenges,” Alisha says. “If you don’t learn something new each day, you must’ve taken the day off.”
To overcome growing challenges, Quickley Produce has relied upon Lodi, Ohio-based hydroponic services company CropKing, for expertise. CropKing supplied the farm with the hydroponic systems and specifications that it needed to build its greenhouses.
“When we have a problem, we usually look to them to see how it can be fixed,” Alisha says. “There’s been times where they’ve helped us with challenges we never even saw coming.”
Quickley Produce has grown as a result, and currently produces approximately 40,000 pounds of tomatoes and cucumbers annually. The farm sells its produce directly to consumers through farmers’ markets, and acts as a wholesaler to nearly a dozen grocers and restaurants throughout Springfield, MO.
This year, Quickley also started selling tomatoes and cucumbers to the Springfield Public Schools district, which has been ramping up its farm-to-table efforts as a result of a recently received grant.
When asked about the farm’s future, Alisha says there are no specific plans, though in the same breath she notes that an expansion, and possibly a larger crop assortment, could be on the distant horizon. For now, though, she says that the four generations of family members working the farm plan to enjoy the bounty of their harvest.
“We appreciate that this is such a family-oriented thing. We’re all learning from one another,” she says.