US (OH): "Anything with a fibrous root system, you can pretty much dab in and give it a shot"

The drought of 1988, which covered much of the US, no doubt left farmers more scared than they were born. Tyler Gogolek, then a teenager living in Northeast OH, saw it as a challenge—with one Dust Bowl-sized caveat. “That’s when I remembered I wanted to be a farmer,” he says. “However, I needed to control the weather.”

Thirty-five years later, Gogolek runs his own business and, in a sense, actually dictates the weather from inside the greenhouse. As the owner of Tyler’s Farm in Oberlin, OH, he and his family have been growing hydroponic lettuce and greens on a year-round basis since December 2014.

“That allows me to eat salad eight to nine times a year, compared to three or four out there,” says Gogolek. “Hydroponics also allows for crop versatility. Anything with a fibrous root system, you can pretty much dab in and give it a shot.

“Lettuce and greens respond very well to LED lighting,” says Gogolek. “Here in our neck of the woods, it gets very dark in December, January, and February. If you average seven to eight weeks of growth time from seed to harvest, you want to be as close to wintertime as possible. That average got really bad before I had the lights on. I bought the lights because we were hitting a 10-week turnaround, and this is unacceptable.


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