Posts By Malka Geffen
Getting through the first season as a new farmer can be daunting, but Perpetual Harvest owner Frazer Love faced the challenge with a commitment to organic growing.
As Love explains: “When we contribute positively to our community, our community sustains us as a naturally created cycle.”
Love took a chance when he left his job in October 2012 to become a micro farmer. A micro farm, according to Love, is an urban plot of land no bigger than 4 acres dedicated to producing fruits, vegetables, and, at times, poultry.
To start his farm, Love built twelve 16-square-foot raised beds on his home property in Athens, GA, and installed a custom irrigation system featuring a feeding barrel for compost tea and ball valves on each bed to control water flow.
There are tomatoes, and then there are hydroponically grown heirloom tomatoes. While the former may be easier to grow, the latter are prized by chefs in Charleston’s finest restaurants.
“Heirloom varieties all grow differently and are finicky at best,” says Holy City Farms owner Shawn Ransford. “I understand why most greenhouse growers focus on the less ‘tasteful’ varieties; they have consistent growth patterns, are disease resistant and have high yields. To be honest, I often dream of doing the same. However, I remind myself that that is not what we do here. Taste is our number one priority.”
Not many hydroponic farms are established in the middle of an orchid nursery, but for South Coast Orchids’ owner Dennis Keany and his family, hydroponic vegetables were the answer to the question: what do you grow when you can’t use much water?
The family’s 4.5-acre orchid nursery located just North of San Diego now shares greenhouse real estate with butter lettuce, kale, and bok choy that is sold under the brand name Sundial Farm.
In Southern California, water is a precious, highly regulated resource. According to Sundial Farm manager Sean Keany, state regulations began changing about ten years ago to conserve the area’s aqueduct-fed water source. Water conservation and access to fresh, clean produce are Keany family values and when the state advised going hydroponic, the decades-old orchid farmers were ready to move forward.