Some of the most exciting aspects of owning Simply Hydroponics for the last two decades have been our many opportunities to be active in our community through various school and non-profit projects as well as seeing the development of revolutionary new methods of food production. Our collaborative efforts with Uriah Urban Farms on a living wall project at the Roosevelt 2.0 building in Ybor City has been a combination of both.
When our long time friend and customer David Smiles first came by and presented the idea to Simply co-owner, Allan Bednar, we were immediately excited to get involved. David is that rare combination of smart business sense and social conscious that we value in the people that we work with. In addition, he and his beautiful wife, Latoya met one another in our Largo store 11 years ago so we have a special soft spot for our Simply Hydroponics love story.
David was looking to produce a perfect and consistent product in rotating crops from his wall garden for sale to high end restaurants. It was essential to him that all the lettuces, herbs and other varied crops would have flawless, uniform leaves, free from the damage naturally incurred in outdoor conditions such as wind, temperature fluctuation and insects. The Roosevelt building, with its long, two story wall provided the perfect indoor setting for a vertical micro farm constructed of Vertical Hydroponic Grow Chambers. The problem, as with any indoor garden was providing essential proper lighting and it was at that point in which he first came to talk to Allan about using LED lighting for the project. Based on his research he thought they sounded like the way to go.
In spite of the many glowing articles on LED lights, our experience with them has fallen far short of the claims. We have an LED which is considered to be the best currently manufactured that we have loaned to various customers to try for themselves and not one has ever opted to use them following the test. We loaned it to David and his results were no better than anyone else’s. He returned looking for a different option.
Factoring the unique complication of the high ceiling with the need for perfectly even light dispersement, high output, t5 flourescent was the way to go. Although this type of lighting does not perform as well as high pressure sodium light for fruit and flower production, we have yet to see anything produce better results for dense, even vegetative growth than the t5’s. As none of the plants David was growing were fruit and flower producing, these light weight, 8 bulb panels, were a perfect fit for all the requirements. Incorporating the use of heavy duty light movers, 12 of the 2×4 panels were suspended from the tall ceiling moving slowly back and forth just inches from the plants. By utilizing an ebb and flow table to propagate seedlings and supplemental CO2 (recommended for most indoor garden scenarios), we were able to provide all the elements needed to successfully take David’s crops from germination to harvest.
The results speak for themselves and the pictures in our slideshow don’t fully do justice to the imagery of a thriving farm growing vertically on an indoor wall.
If you live in the Tampa Bay area go check it out for yourself at the Tuesday night Farmers Market at the Roosevelt 2.0 building in Ybor City. If you tell David we sent you, he just might pluck you something fresh and tasty to take home.
The Roosevelt 2.0 building is now closed. For an update on Farmer Dave and Uriah Farm, click here
Click here for article in Tampa Bay Times http://www.tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/dining/farmer-dave-sows-change-with-indoor-vertical-gardens/2134883