Most nutrition experts agree that eating foods in season results in the most nutritious, budget friendly, and eco-friendly foods.
However, we would love to have strawberries, tomatoes, and other favorites from the garden or farm all year long.
We know, of course, there is no way they can be grown where we live due to the weather. After all, strawberries don’t love growing in the snow and cold wind.
Growers and family farmers are searching for the best ways to bring us all health through fresh produce, even in the dead of winter.
Fortunately for us, they have found some ways to accomplish this goal.
I have found one family owned and operated company that is growing produce year-round. Nature Fresh Farms is changing the way we think about in-season produce. I like what they are doing and think you should know about them too.
They are revolutionizing greenhouse growing in their centers in Ohio and Ontario by producing tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers that are nutritious, delicious, sustainable and grown year-round.
Nature Fresh Farms sums up their commitment to growing in this way:
In our sustainable growing environment where we recycle 100% of our nutrient water, grow in medium that is not dirt to using bumble bees to pollinate our flowers allows us to be unique.
We ensure all our plants receive optimal growing conditions by having state-of-the-art climate control systems that are programmed and managed by our growers to the plant’s specific needs through all stages of its growth. This system also controls the temperature, humidity, watering, air flow, and carbon dioxide (CO2) within the greenhouse.
We strive to provide a fantastic eating experience; we are conscious of healthy lifestyles and go the extra mile to give consumers the information they need to make the right choice.
Consumers want to know where their produce is grown, how it is treated, what potential pesticides are used and how far it traveled to get where it is purchased. This farm has all the answers.
Nature Fresh’s philosophy is to give consumers what they crave. They are not interested in sacrificing the quality of a product to get a bigger yield.
They are sustainable as they use renewable energy sources, recyclable packaging and have 0% nutrient water discharge. They are studying bugs to use good bugs to protect crops and reduce the need for pesticides. Their produce is all non-GMO verified.
You can find their TOMZ cherry tomatoes in orange grape, yellow grape, red cherry, sweet cocktail and red grape varieties. Their produce is vine ripened, shipped within 24 hours of picking and available year-round.
To learn more about this company and its growing operation, where you can buy yours and what initiatives are coming, visit their website and blog.
Greenhouses are also popping up in unique places throughout the country including on rooftops. Growing environments are expanding and many organizations and companies are getting involved to meet consumers demands.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants, especially food crops, without using soil. A nutrient-rich water mixture is the growing medium.
Not all hydroponic gardening uses just water for growing but also can use gravel, peat, vermiculite, sawdust, old rubber tires, and other aggregates to hold the nutrient rich water.
The roots continue to be bathed in nutrient rich water in all these mediums, but unlike soil, do not have to ‘search’ for the nutrients.
Just about any type of plant can be grown using hydroponics but will require different handling practices, such as the amount of light, pH, water temperature and frequency of fresh water provided. Many are grown in greenhouses, both large and small, where the climate and growing conditions can be tightly controlled.
Benefits of hydroponic growing:
- Water saving; using as little as 5% of water used by a regular farm for the same yield
- Reduced pesticide use with an integrated pest management program
- Reduced chemical run off
- Potential for 50% more vitamins than conventional because nutrients controlled in water
- Reduced land required
- Grow food during water pollution, global warming, weather changes, or drought as grower controls the medium
- Uses recycled materials
We don’t want to upset the balance of the environment as we try to meet the challenges of feeding the world. Farming is a thirsty business. It also has a way of swallowing up open land and forests for crops and cattle.
Agriculture is working smarter around the globe. In addition to the rise of small farms, local growers and now hydroponics to help feed us all, the future is looking brighter.
We can begin to enjoy produce throughout the year at the peak of freshness and nutrition without breaking the budget!