Believe it or not, The Commons, Kennesaw State University’s state-of-the-art dining hall, feeds more than 5,000 guests each weekday! The facility opened in August 2009 and coincided with the introduction of the campus meal plan program. The staff of Culinary & Hospitality Services took advantage of an incredibly unique opportunity to incorporate industry-leading sustainable practices in a new building from the ground up.
Did You Know?
The Commons has more than 10 hydroponic units. Hydroponics refers to the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients and without soil. Rainwater run-off from our buliding is used as a water source.
The process consists of three steps: germination, propagation, and cultivation.
The Commons will produce 600 heads of lettuce every three weeks, which will result in about 9,600 heads of lettuce per year for use in the dining hall.
There are 4 main factors driving the hydroponic growing trends for 2016. Aside from the fact that hydroponic gardening and farming takes less water, less space and even can produce better tasting products, it can also be highlighted as an economic driver for many local communities ready to embrace the future needs of a growing population with a higher value placed on healthy food. In choosing the top 4 factors driving hydroponic growing trends, we’ve religiously read the local news feeds from across the US and through a combined 20 hours of intensive research and review of commonly reported statistics (and sometimes very boring statistics) we think the following 4 sets of articles help paint the future picture of hydroponics.
Since our blog’s start in 2014, we have noticed that there are 4 particular factors that are driving the trends emerging into reality, which we believe will set the stage for the following few years and wanted to call them out along with 4 articles (and 1 video) that we hope you will enjoy and inspire you to support the hydroponics revolution (okay, so it might not be a revolution…yet.)
Just like we searched online to bring you the best hydroponic supply products in the hydroponic system shop section of our blog, we have also searched the web to find you our Top 4 rated “Best Hydroponic News Stories” that help frame the future prediction for accelerated hydroponic growth in 2016.
NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF HYDROPONICS
The first factor we wanted to highlight is highlight and focus on the necessity for driving our food production from the fields to controlled environments to help grow 365 days per year.
In a commercial setting; this type of trend is ranging from start-up companies retrofitting old retail store buildings (these are the places people went to shop before Amazon) with hydroponic and LED grow light systems to regionally focused companies buying old fashioned cargo containers that can host large vertical farms inside, which can then be easily shipped around the world to locations that may not have historically been able to produce food (think lettuce being grown in Alaska in January).
FRESH PRODUCE IN THE WINTER
We believe that with the global weather patterns changing and the more extreme types of weather (droughts in California where our lettuce used to be grown) happening around the world, it will only make sense to bring our food sources closer to the communities we live and place them in more controlled environments. It costs a lot of money to ship a head of lettuce to Alaska in the winter and it probably will not show up that fresh, but if we had the capability to grow lettuce in an old retail store in Alaska – that would be amazing for those individuals to enjoy fresh lettuce in the winter.
The following article, which was recently published in TechCrunch, quotes a another fantastic statistic that we think will set the stage for accelerated growth for the hydroponics industry. Particularly, the fact that the earth will house nearly 9.7 billion people by 2050, which will drive the demand for food production over the next 4 decades to be more than has ever been produced in the prior 10,000 (ten thousand… that is not a typo) years.
HOMEMADE HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS
As you can see, commercial farms are beginning to embrace hydroponics and we will all feel the benefits at the grocery store in the future with fresher, cheaper and tastier food options all year long (think fresh organic blueberry pie in December.) Now we want to also think about the individuals who want to grow their own sources of food on a balcony, in a basement or in their kitchen with the help from hydroponics and LED technology. Most folks who start to grow hydroponically either start with a store bought kit; however many folks that read our blog want to create their own homemade hydroponic system.
We have found that the DIY and home hydroponic enthusiast is also benefitting from starting their homemade hydroponic system with much cheaper LED grow lights now available, affordable grow tents (check out these grow tents available on Amazon to compare and price) made by an ever increasing number of manufactures and simple hydroponic systems that can be made from components found online or at the local hardware and pet stores.
When it comes to a backyard homemade hydroponic system, we think you will love the ideas documented in this University of Florida publication paper describing (with pictures for each stage) on how to build a low-cost vertical soilless system for growing vegetables and small fruit using… recycled plastic bottles!
The team does a great job showing pictures for every stage for building the vertical “grow bottle” hydroponic system.
[quote ]There is nothing you can’t grow hydroponically.[/quote]
CHEATING THE SEASONS – WITH TECHNOLOGY
Since many of our readers indicated that they would like to see more video, we have included a video recently produced along with this article on Fox5NY and embedded it below. This Long Island vertical farm featured in the video is growing 6,000 heads of lettuce per week!
Here are four of our favorite quotes from the video:
1. “Growing hydroponically allows farmers to cheat the seasons.”
2. “There is nothing you can’t grow hydroponically”
3. “Hydroponic farming in general has been on the upswing in general, particularly because of severe weather patterns”
4. “As with any kind of farming, it starts with a seed. There are also no pesticides.”
FARM IN A BOX: Shipping containers are reused for fresh produce
The previous 3 articles really help show how hydroponics makes sense (did you hear in the video embedded above how it takes 50 gallons of water to grow vs. only 1 to 2 gallons hydroponically) and is actually a much more efficient way to grow a food supply locally and all year long. Technology also plays an important role now since the conditions can be controlled and monitored from the farmer’s smartphone anywhere in the world.
THE FUTURE OF HYDROPONICS
It is now easy to start thinking about the new possibilities for the future farm.
The future farm could be on your roof, in the old retail store on the North side of town or even in your neighbor’s empty lot. There is also a new trend in future farming that is growing through the use of special LED grow lights that are much more affordable than historic grow light bulbs.
Many systems even use solar power to generate the power needed to run these little LED grow lights that duplicate the sun’s rays. One company is now reusing those old cargo containers (remember when the economy was in full swing and we used these containers to transport products from China) as farms in a box. From Atlanta to Alaska, there are articles featuring these new kinds of farms that benefit from a controlled environment and can be customized for hot, cold and dark environments.
Climate controls, automated lighting and irrigation systems, and mobile apps for monitoring and maintaining crops remotely also allow farmers to grow year-round with minimal oversight.
We hope you enjoyed these 4 articles. We believe they provide a great foundation and frame up the future need for embracing hydroponics as it will become an integral part of our food production whether it be accessed in the product sold in your grocery store, grown in your backyard or bought from your local farmer’s market.
We surf online daily and like to find cool videos featuring hydroponics to share with our visitors. This video is from YouTube, Molly Gagliano, who recorded a 4th grader explaining their new hydroponic system in a class room. Way to go Molly and class! This is short and we wanted to help get your views up on YouTube!
Two very different schools benefit from hydroponics
We love reading the hydroponic news online and would like to share articles that our visitors may find of some interest – because we love these stories, we want to share the positive impact hydroponics has on the schools across the country.
The first article we love is from Ironwood, Michigan (with a population around 5,400) where local State Police donated hydroponic system equipment and grow lights to the local Ironwood schools. The school hopes to use the equipment to raise their own fruits and vegetables for snacks. Read Entire Article Here
The second article is from Stony Brook University where they report that in late August, a former shipping container made its way onto campus. This container will be the home to grow over 2000 heads of lettuce all grown in water and controlled through a smartphone app. Check out the picture of the container and read more from the sbpress.com Read Entire Article Here
Emily Donaldson is looking to grow both hydroponics and aquaponics education in the local Vermont schools; however needs some growth fuel! As the article states, “she turned her interests into a non-profit bringing ideas for sustainable development into schools. She calls it Cultivating Action. It started with the building of a hydroponic system in her old school.”
Thursday’s unveiling of 8,400-square-foot West Kingston facility is first step for Atlantic Produce
Original Source: Providence Journal
By Paul Grimaldi
Journal Staff Writer Posted Sep. 16, 2015 at 11:47 amUpdated Sep 16, 2015 at 5:34 PM
A Massachusetts entrepreneur has staked out territory in Rhode Island for a new agricultural business he said will help Americans change the way they grow and consume produce.
The hydroponic greenhouse operated by Atlantic Produce near the University of Rhode Island in is the first commercial one in the state, according to the R.I. Department of Environmental Management.
Lewis Valenti, the founder of Atlantic Produce, is working with URI on the prototype for a hydroponic growing facility that can grow lettuce and other greens, in a chemical-free environment, year-round.
On Thursday, state officials will join URI administrators as they unveil the 8,400-square-foot facility in West Kingston, near the URI campus.