Vertical Roots, a controlled hydroponic farm for leafy greens, is set to expand to Columbia this week. The Charleston-based company repurposes retired shipping containers to create indoor, fully automated, vertical farms. The containers are equipped with LED lighting and soil-less hydroponic systems. Hydroponic farming is a method of growing plants using mineral-rich water, instead of soil. The setup enables the farm to deliver fresh, chemical-free vegetables year-round.
According to Vertical Roots representatives, controlled hydroponic farming is the fastest-growing segment in the produce industry today. It allows the plants to have a 365-day growing season, is free from pesticides, unaffected by the weather, and protected by filtration from waterborne pathogens.
Company representatives noted that approximately 95 percent of leafy greens currently come from the west coast, which can add up to a two week travel period from harvest to distribution. Vertical Roots places the farm as close to the point of distribution as possible. The first farm is set to arrive in Columbia and will be located on Wholesale Lane, on the South Carolina State Farmers Market campus. The produce will be available on shelves within one to two days from harvest, making it the freshest product in the market, with a naturally longer shelf life.
“Vertical Roots brings a fresh, innovative approach to farming and I’m excited to welcome them to the State Farmers Market campus in Columbia,” South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said. “These new farm sites expand our state’s sustainable agribusiness offerings and deliver even more local produce for South Carolinians.”
Vertical Roots GM and co-founder, Andrew Hare, reflected Weathers’s sentiments: “We are thrilled to bring our products to Columbia and look forward to giving back the community through donations, building local partnerships, and offering sustainable jobs for local farmers,” he said.
Founded and headquartered in Charleston, the company’s growing pods are automated and climate controlled, greatly reducing water, energy and contamination risks. Vertical Roots’ pods use 98 percent less water than traditional farming methods.