Tanimura & Antle Newsroom

June 19, 2015

How we grow lettuce without soil

Did you know that we also grow lettuce in water? While also using 90% less water than that of a traditional farm?

 

Our Hydroponic farm in Livingston, TN, grows lettuce year around using floating rafts in pools of water.  We believe that growing produce hydroponically can provide more fresh products to an increasing population while properly managing water usage in the process.

 

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Here’s how we do it step by step:

 

1.) Seeds are placed precisely in the individual growing pods. The material is a dry foam and each tray holds 276 plants! Then they are watered and given nutrients to start the germination process. Next they move into the germination room for the seeds to sprout.

 

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2.) The trays are placed into pools of water for the first time.

 

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3.) Next the plants are broken into “mini blocks” with one seed in each. These “mini blocks” are then transplanted into a floating raft that holds 72 plants. The plants are then placed back in the pools where they’ll stay until the final transplant phase. There are exactly 42,372 plants that are actively growing in each pool during this stage of the process.

 

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4.) The final transplant stage takes the plants from a 72 hole raft to a 18 hole raft. This gives the plants plenty of space to grow. Once the plants are on these rafts, they are sent down a floating river to be moved to a specific designated pool. As the plants come down the river, employees manage the boards and make sure the pools are filled properly with the new rafts. This is the final pool for the plants before they are packed and shipped.

 

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5.) After an average of 40 to 50 days of growth (depending on the time of the year and the amount of sunlight that the plants get), plants are ready to be harvested. The rafts are put on a floating river to be brought into the

production room.

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6.) Once inside the packing room, the Boston Lettuce is trimmed up, roots are removed and they are placed in clear clamshells to protect each plant during shipment. Our team in Tennessee harvests about one pool per day depending on how many orders we have sold to our customers.

 

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7.) Clamshells are placed in cartons. We have many different carton sizes depending on the need of our customers. The cartons are then put onto a pallet and the full pallets are then placed in the vacuum tube to cool down. At this point, the product is ready to ship to the grocery store for you to enjoy.