“Over the last 5-7 years, universities’ interest in greenhouse and hydroponic training has exploded. Getting involved with the education community has been great; it used to be only a specific group that liked hydroponics, but now everyone seems to,” says Paul Brentlinger, chief executive officer of CropKing Incorporated.
Born out of a lack of support for hydroponic growers, CropKing boasts an inventory of horticultural supplies ranging from greenhouse structures to seeds which allows CropKing to support growers throughout the design, construction and use of various growing systems. That said, CropKing has always looked beyond the provision of horticultural equipment as the company strives to provide educational and training resources for hydroponic growers.
One such example is the intensive workshop offered by CropKing, through which registrants elect to participate in single day, multi-day or week-long workshops according to their individual needs. Participants receive small group instruction and expanded practical experience in a hydroponic greenhouse. Aside from grower workshops, CropKing regularly collaborates with universities and schools.
“When we work with educational institutions, we help them develop a lab or greenhouse that is more centered on education than production. The biggest challenge with schools is that they want to have both production and education. But in a commercial setting, you can’t have the mistakes that education requires,” says Paul, emphasizing how commercial growers are more risk-averse and need reliable systems producing consistent yields.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, CropKing frequently hosted field trips and tours at its research facility in Lodi, Ohio. Pandemic-related restrictions effectively limited most educational and training activities offered by CropKing, which the company responded to by offering online workshops and Q&A sessions with CropKing technicians. The Q&A sessions, for example, are free two-hour sessions organized on a biweekly basis and conducted through Zoom. During these sessions, technicians are available to answer participants’ questions on hydroponics, equipment, etc.
While CropKing prides itself on the support provided to its clients, Paul maintains that passion is the biggest determinant of a grower’s success. “The reputation that CropKing has worked to develop is that we are more focused on client than the sale of products. We don’t want to pressure people into the industry because if it isn’t their passion, then they might not do well. We would sooner talk people out of the industry if it isn’t a good fit than talk them into it when they aren’t passionate about it.”
Learn about Bradwood Farm’s experience as hydroponic growers working with CropKing here.
T: +1 330-302-4203