Hydroponic farm visit

A few weeks ago my mother discovered a couple of fabulous picking farms located near her house. She called me immediately and said that I absolutely had to drive out to see her this weekend so we could take a trip to the picking farm. Of course I eagerly agreed! We spent all day picking our own produce and taking a guided tour around a local hydroponic farm. It was an amazing afternoon so I thought I’d share a few pictures.

First stop was a local picking farm called Hunsader Farm in Bradenton, Florida. They host a huge pumpkin festival throughout the month of October that attracts people from all over the state with live music, hay rides and of course produce pickin’! This weekened they had green beans, black-eye peas and zipper peas ripe and ready! We didn’t pick our own beans but we did swing into their produce stand and snatch up some goodies.

I filled up two huge bags with sweet potatoes, squash, beans, cabbage, melons, tomatoes and so much more. They also had a really cute “petting zoo” area set up for kids to feed some of the farm animals. It was super cute!

Everybody was very friendly and I got a nice lil lesson on zipper peas from one of the ladies in the market. I took home a bag-full and put them in some delicious veggie soup. An hour of shucking peas left me wondering how much it was really worth the effort, but the peas were super sweet and delicious!

Next stop was the hydroponic farm! A little info on hydroponic farming: Hydroponic farmers have completely eliminated the need for soil. The crops are grown in stacked “grow houses” using an advanced water filtration system and an all-natural peat and vermiculite substrate. This farm uses only natural mineral salt-based fertilizers and an all-natural pesticide composed of water, soap and cayenne pepper.

The produce is absolutely delicious and about as close to organic as you can get without calling it so. Technically, since they use minerals in the substrate they cannot label themselves organic. In order to be considered organic, plants cannot be nourished with mineral salts or any other refined substances, even though these are usually a higher purity than most organic fertilizers. Hydroponic crops are grown in very sterile environments and are not exposed to soil erosion or pollutants from run-off. The farmers use very precise methods to ensure optimal growth, extended growing seasons and maximum nutrition in their crops. They are also quite proud of their craft! We smiled sweetly and asked for a guided tour through the outdoor growing area. The friendly staff happily obliged.

 Rows upon rows of baby strawberries. Not quite ready to be picked, but I assure you I’ll be back when they are!

Asparagus

My favorite part of the afternoon? When I heard what was ripe and ready to be picked–kale, collards, swiss chard and bib lettuce. I think I started drooling when he told me; and that turned a great trip into a freakin’ fabulous trip.

 Loading up my basket with some curly kale!Mama having fun with the collards! ;)

 Gorgeous tower of kale.

Rainbow swiss chard

Some beautiful looking spinach

 Group shot!Getting a little lesson on picking bib lettuce. Grab it around the roots and gently pull it free. Keeping the root attached allows the plant to stay alive and fresh when you take it home! =)

They had rows and rows of hydroponic corn. Apparently it’s the sweetest and most tender corn you’ll ever taste (says my new farmer friend).

Visiting these local farms was such a wonderful experience and something I plan on doing more often, especially after learning how close they are. There is something amazingly refreshing about picking your own food before it goes on your plate. It’s a feeling of accomplishment and appreciation for all of the hard work that goes into farming. I believe it’s each of our duties to learn more about where our food comes from and do our best to keep things local. That’s what it’s all about folks–local, sustainable, organically-grown, and fresh!

Have you ever visited a picking farm or hydroponic farm?

17 comments

    • Lindsay says:

      I can’t believe how cheap they were at this farm! I’m not sure of the exact price they charged me per pound but I took home 3 huge plastic bags full for $10! Such a deal!! :)

    • Lindsay says:

      ohh I bet! I can’t wait to try the berries from this place! I plan on going and picking as many as I can take home with me and freezing them :)

  1. Katelainey says:

    The hydroponic farm is seriously amazing! I’ve never been to one, but have heard such great things about them. What fun trips! So random question, but are you having any other readers having problems with your website not showing up on Bloglovin?? I’m following you via that, but your posts aren’t showing up!!! :(

    • Lindsay says:

      This was my first visit to a hydroponic farm too. It was seriously one of the best experiences and I can’t wait to go back!
      When I switched my blog over to wordpress the RSS feed and some of the follow programs completely changed. You have to unsubscribe and resubscribe. Sorry, I know that is annoying :( I’ll put a bloglovin button on tonight and then you can resubscribe if you want. Hope that helps!!! :)

  2. Brooke says:

    Ooh man!! I had a comment typed all out yesterday, and my computer was being a pain in the !!! and never posted it! Oh well :) This is so neat!! We actually have a hydroponic greenhouse in one of our downstairs rooms!! Our first crop was a failblog.org due to our setup requiring way too much maintenance.. so we are in our 2nd round right now, with a more self-maintained setup, and cannot wait to see what we harvest!! It would be nice to eventually get all of our produce right from our hydro-greenhouse!

    What a fun weekend, I would LOVE to visit both places, especially the hyrdo farm!!

    • Lindsay says:

      Oh my goodness I’m sooo jealous!!! It’s definitely my dream to have my own hydroponic set-up one day. The farm I visited sells everything you need to get started AND offers weekend classes for beginning growers! Unfortunately I’m not in the best place to start farming right now (living with my grandparents!) but I’d love do this someday! You’ll have to keep me updated with your harvesting and let me know how everything works out!! So cool!!!

  3. mama says:

    This was such a fun afternoon, Lindsay! Need to go when the little heart tomatoes are ripe! they say they are the best! Rick and I are going back this week for spinach. We are so lucky to live close to this farm.

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