American Hydroponics started in 1984 as a two-man business that developed and manufactured growing systems for hobby farming. "We designed hydroponic growing systems, which we manufactured ourselves with our own thermoforming machines," says CEO Michael Christian. "In the development of these systems, ease of use was paramount. Basically, everyone with the least growing skills should be able to work with it and be able to harvest quality produce. We soon made great strides in the development, at that time this was a fairly new system, and quite right, there was interest in our systems from professional growers. "
In search of professional growing skills, Michael Christian visited New Zealand and Australia in the mid nineties to learn from expert NFT growers. New Zealand growers commercialized Alan Coopers work with NFT in the early 70’s through the work of Rob Smith and Grenville Stocker. Michael said, “The NFT systems were so simple and productive, long flat bottomed tubes running very small volumes of nutrient solution, super efficient. Once it caught on, competing soil growers who were only getting 5 crop turns a year, switched to hydroponics and within the first year, were enjoying 10-20 crop turns.” Once this news hit Australia, ALL the Maltese lettuce growers switched to many hectares of NFT. American Hydroponics took New Zealand/Australian technology under license and improved the NFT system designs for greenhouse horticulture in the US.
Today the team of American Hydroponics consists of sixteen people in Northern California but the company is active worldwide, shipping systems to over 12 countries including Japan, Kuwait, Israel, Barbados, Mexico, Abu Dhabi, Nigeria, Hondouras… etc. There are multiple production sites in North America and growers are active throughout the world. "One of the points that distinguish ourselves from other suppliers is our commitment to the grower," says Michael. "We don’t run after the big money or try to land industrial farming projects; we remain interested in experienced greenhouse growers looking to diversify or start up growers looking for systems that are simple to use, but which achieve exceptional results… we specialize in operations between 400 sq mtrs to 7,500 sq mtrs. Example: as an office manager suddenly no longer has the ambition to stare at his computer screen and one day decides to grow vegetables, he can do that locally with the help of our products. In addition, we closely follow his progress and teach him the art of crop turns. We give the grower advice where necessary and support on-goingly for the first year until they are successful. "
LocalThe increasing demand for locally grown produce has largely driven the success of American Hydroponics. "Locally grown food plays an increasingly important role in our society nowadays," concludes Michael. "More and more consumers attach value to the origin of their food and how far it had to travel to get to them. They want it to be grown next door in an environmentally friendly manner. They want to know who grows it, they want a face with their produce. Our growing systems definitely help local growers to set up their business. Now they can harvest consistent quality, year-round uniform, pesticide free produce and offer them at local markets. Because the food chain also is shorter, the produce reaches the consumer in pristine condition. The specialty buyers appreciate this and therefore pay higher prices for these products. Loyalty develops between growers and buyers through quality and consistency… all attributes of locally grown. We believe in this way of growing. That's why we keep improving our products and helping our new growers. It's an ongoing story. We are committed to localizing food production."
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