For Mike and Becky Newhook, the duo behind Vertical Roots Canada, business is booming amid drought-caused production shortages and high prices in box grocery stores.
"Unless you walk to your backyard and pull it out of your garden, we're the next best thing," Mike said. The couple first ventured into aquaponics farming – which uses fish – in The Philippines. Then, about two and a half years ago, they launched Vertical Roots Canada.
Vertical Roots' plants float 24/7 in about six inches of water. "Everybody asks, 'How come you're not drowning your plants?' Well," Mike explained, "we provide fresh nutrients, fresh oxygen, all day, all night, so the roots are able to absorb all those things in the water."
With 14 feet of vertical growing space, the company is able to put out stock at the Bountiful Farmers' Market, deliver to a few locations across the city, and supply a handful of restaurants.
Heads of romaine, green and red lettuce, as well as arugula and kale, sell for $5 or $6. The Newhooks say they are committed to holding the price there. "As we've moved into the cold season and the markets are shut down, and the gardens are gone, and then we have drought and disease in California, we find people are just desperate for greens that are locally produced but also so clean and not coming from a major corporation," Becky told.
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