Aeroponics at Manchin's Greenhouse
The Tower Farm innovation has been brought to Charleston, West Virginia by a family passionate about providing healthier food options and methods to local communities. The building and greenhouse are a spectacle you won’t miss when driving down MacCorkle Ave. It’s pleasing to see a green hub situated among mundane medical facilities and boring brick facades. The Manchin’s Greenhouse uses the tower farm garden, which is an aeroponic method for growing crops.
What is Aeroponics?
Aeroponics is a form of hydroponics that grows plants without soil, using only water and nutrients.
This method is simply more efficient than hydroponics in that the tower sprays exposed roots with solution only when plants need it. The tower farm conveniently uses less resources, time, and space. Below is a brief comparison between traditional farming and the aeroponics method.
Amounts for 80% of US water usage
40 of 50 states expect water shortages by 2023
20% of fresh vegetables in the US come from overseas
98% less water and uses 90% less space
local farming means more nutrients and confidence in quality
30% more food than traditional method
harvest cycle occurs in 21 days or less
reduces soil-borne pests and plant diseases
Tower Farm Process
The Tower Farm can grow up to 150 kinds of herbs and vegetables! Talk about eradicating hunger one community at a time. Here are the steps in planting, producing, and harvesting crops.
The seed is placed in a pod to propagate the sprout.
Once the seed sprouts it is placed in the tower farm; by this step the tower farm does all the work. It provides water to the plant by a sensor that translates the need for more water if the roots are dry. The water has all the necessary nutrients the crops need to grow.
Now give the vegetable or herb time to grow and flourish! After a couple of days the plant is ready to be harvested. The harvesting should be done by a professional to prevent contamination of plants.
If the tower is placed indoors, grow lights are attached to give the plants the sunlight it needs. On the other hand, if placed in a greenhouse crops will have the proper sunlight and temperature they need to survive.
Finally repeat the steps - so simple and easy!
The owner, Gigi, at Manchin’s Greenhouse makes fresh smoothies and salads in-house. The best part is that the consumer feels confident about the whole process from start to finish ensuring a healthy meal! Manchin’s Greenhouse also sells produce from local farms around West Virginia, as well as products from local businesses such as one of my favorites - J.Q. Dickinson Saltworks. I also asked Gigi about the pricing of her herbs and how it compared to say “Kroger”, and we found that a stock of Basil was around a dollar less than a stock bought from Kroger! So be sure to eat fresh and buy local!