Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

The Farm of the Future? Mount Vernon's Growponics Greenhouse Leaves Dirt Behind

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

The Farm of the Future? Mount Vernon's Growponics Greenhouse Leaves Dirt Behind

Article excerpt

Rows of red and green lettuce heads gently float in Geoffrey Dell's hydroponic greenhouse in Mount Vernon, Ind. Dell, 56, runs what he says is the first hydroponic farm in the Tri-State that specializes in growing lettuce. He calls it the farm of the future.

"Our whole strategy is built around growing local and growing healthy produce," he said.

Dell moved to the Tri-State about 14 years ago with then- employer Bristol-Myers Squibb, in Mount Vernon, Ind.

He was looking into retirement opportunities and found the Growponics Americas website, made connections, and invested his lump sum pension into this company.

And he's pleased with his retirement decision.

"I feel like I'm pursuing a dream here," Dell said. "And I've always had the entrepreneurial spirit."

The project has a bit of an international feel. The chief engineer, Lior Hessel, who designed and built the facility, is from Israel. And the farm's horticulturist, Geoffrey Smith, is from the U.K.

"We've got an international team of the four most experts in the field of hydroponic growing," Dell said. "This is the first hydroponic farm built by Growponics Americas in the U.S. We plan on rolling these out across the country as soon as we get this one settled and producing well."

Construction on the 33,000 square foot facility started in October 2011 and was built throughout the winter. Planting started about two months ago and product is currently for sale.

Five varieties of lettuce are grown in Dell's controlled environment greenhouse at 6410 Lennard Road 365 days a year - Indiana or round bib (also known as butter head), green curly leaf, red leaf, green leaf and romaine. Dell prefers romaine lettuce.

"The lettuce we grow here, you get the entire plant," he explained. "Where the romaine lettuce you get that's field grown from the stores, the outer leaves are stripped off because tip burn or bug holes, so all you get is the romaine hearts. But here we're able to provide the entire plant."

Two systems are used on the farm. The rotating floating field is the Israeli technology. Plants are placed into floating beds with nutrient enhanced water the plants require to grow. …

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