Tag Archives: hydroponic systems

Mad River Community Hospital Farm Celebrates First Hydroponic Greenhouse Harvest

Agra Tech Solar Light 18 greenhouse

In January of 2017 Mad River Community Hospital (MRCH) celebrated its first harvest from its recently built, 450 square-foot hydroponics greenhouse manufactured by Agra Tech in Pittsburg, CA.
Since 2008, the hospital has produced much of the fresh fruit and vegetables that is serves in the café and to patients from the hospital farm located on the Mad River Community Hospital property. With the addition of the Agra Tech greenhouse and AM Hydro systems MRCH has expanded is production capacity particularly in the winter months. The hospital will be able to provide even more healthy food to its patients and staff all year long. Produce grown in the hydroponic systems include  lettuce mixes, cucumbers, baby Swiss chard, bok choy, baby kale, tomatoes, spinach Asian greens and basil.

Todd Heustis, Mad River Community Hospital’s Food and Nutrition Services Manager in conjunction with CEO Doug Shaw, initially began exploring the concept of using a hydroponics greenhouse in 2012.  In November of 2016 construction was finally complete.

“Our goals were simple to expand our off season growing capacity while demonstrating an innovative way to produce more in a smaller space.”  Heustis said. “We have come a long way. In 2008, we started our farm project with a one-acre dirt farm and in 2011, it was so successful that we added a second acre. We learned as we went along, we got a lot of support and advice by reaching out to the local farming community. We are now able to provide 30-80%, season dependent, of our produce needs to our patients, doctors, visitors and staff.”

Hydroponics in Agra Tech Solar light greenhouse

Mad River Community Hospital employs a full-time farmer, Graham Gagne, to manage both hydroponic greenhouse and the farm. He works closely with the kitchen to coordinate daily produce needs. At the weekly menu meeting the dept. manager, kitchen supervisor, café cook and farmer design the café specials for the following week specifically written to include farm fresh produce.   By holding weekly menu planning meetings, Heustis and the hospital’s chefs are able to use produce that is seasonal and guaranteed to be ripe. “Our chefs are doing some really creative things with our weekly menus. We sit down and discuss our inventory and try to use as much as can from the farm into everything we serve.

Am Hydro, a global hydroponic company based out of Arcata CA, provided the hydroponic equipment, startup knowledge and recommended the Agra Tech Greenhouses.  After doing some research; we decided to buy an 18′ x 24′ Agra Tech greenhouse, a 6’x12’ NFT hydro table, a 10’ Dutch bucket system, computer monitoring system, and dosing pumps. Since then we have doubled our hydroponic systems.  In hind sight we should have started with a much larger system, we could be operating a larger greenhouse with the hydroponics computerized monitoring system we have.

The hospital’s plant operations department built the greenhouse. Heustis and Gange set up the hydro systems in the structure. Plenty of advice was needed from ATI along the way. “We were calling their tech support line all the time with questions and they were great at helping us throughout the process. We tapped into their expertise whenever we needed it, and they came through each and every time.”

Producing crops in the Agra Tech greenhouse coupled with American Hydroponics’ system provides the ideal growing environment. When compared to in-ground farming, hydroponic gardening in the Agra Tech Greenhouse is consistently 25% faster. “Out in the field, it takes approximately 60 days to turn a crop, but in the greenhouse, we can do it in just 45 days,” Heustis said.

The farm project has provided numerous other benefits, in marketing, staff pride, support to our local food bank, an in-house farmers marked, physician and staff recruiting tool.  “Providers are amazed first, that we have a farm and second, by the innovative use of hydroponic system in the Agra Tech Greenhouse” Heustis said, “The farm project has allowed us to further align the organization with community priorities in Local organic food.”

About Mad River Community Hospital

Mad River Community Hospital is a locally-owned and independent hospital that provides a complete range of acute care inpatient services, including OB, Trauma level 4 emergency medicine, physical therapy, ICU, med/surg and radiological services for the people of Arcata, CA and neighboring areas. The facility is also associated with an adult day health care, home health care department outpatient rehabilitation clinics, wound care and hyperbaric oxygen program.

Please contact Todd Heustis theustis@madriverhospital.com with any questions regarding the farm and hydroponic project.

Article by Ed Attanasio of TrustEDadvertising

Go Green Agriculture Goes with Agra Tech Greenhouse

gogreen_logoGo Green Agriculture is a family-owned farm in Encinitas, CA that grows leafy greens without soil in climate-controlled greenhouses made by Agra Tech, Inc. in Pittsburg, CA,commercial greenhouse manufacturer . The company grows lettuce, kale, spinach and basil year-round by carefully manipulating the light, humidity, temperature and nutrients, among other things, to produce ½ million plants for sale every month, through a wide range of retailers, including Barons Market, Safeway and Whole Foods, to name a few.

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Pierre Sleiman excited  about his new Agra Tech greenhouse

Last year, Pierre Sleiman, Jr. was honored as a member of The Champions of Change, a program that was created by the Obama administration as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. Sleiman was honored for doing extraordinary things to assist the next generation of farmers and ranchers, according to the White House.

Sleiman is a member of the board of directors of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and business from UC Riverside and a master’s degree in business from UC San Diego. His idyllic vision is to have regional greenhouse farms all over the country, and eventually, why not the world?

“I can see a time when small greenhouse farms all over the United States will be serving their local communities with fresh vegetables and fruit,” Sleiman said. “We could vastly reduce the need of cross-country or international transportation that costs money, shelf life (time) and pollutes our earth with truck emissions. I’m not suggesting that all products can necessarily be grown locally and still be viable economically, but many crops surely can. With today’s technology, it’s possible… and we’re doing it.”

From the very beginning, Sleiman was entertaining big ideas while other kids were playing video games or hanging out at the mall. “I was that kid who keeps taking my parent’s radio apart and trying to figure how it works,” he explained. “I also had a dream about integrating technology with agriculture to find better and healthier ways to grow food. I believe that my role is to further integrate information systems technology with greenhouse automation and hydroponics to develop an effective system that will allow farming to be integrated into urban living and therefore create a more sustainable, local and safer food supply.”

Until about a year ago, Go Green was leasing greenhouse space in existing structures, until they decided to purchase a brand-new greenhouse from Agra Tech, Inc. “We searched for greenhouse companies and after talking to several of them, we went with Agra Tech,” Sleiman said. “We like the fact that they are located here in California, for one. And we wanted to have a greenhouse that we could customize and pretty much start from scratch and that’s what we got from Agra Tech.”

Another factor that swayed the Sleimans in Agra Tech’s direction was their customer service and specifically, their Agra Tech rep, Jim Bergantz. “The people at Agra Tech definitely made the difference and the customer service has been great since day one. Jim Bergantz will drive here to help us at the drop of a dime and it’s at least a 10-hour drive. He was willing to sit down with us and find a solution that was ideal for what we were trying to do and today our greenhouse looks gorgeous and we couldn’t be happier.”

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Agra Tech Continental greenhouse in production

 

By: Edmund Attanasio

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Agra Tech Greenhouse

Agra Tech Donates Solar Light Greenhouse to Sustainable Farm in Its Own Backyard

With a focus on reclaiming water, growing healthy food for schools and non-profit organizations, creating green jobs and reducing global warming in the Bay Area, the Coco San Sustainable Farms collaboration between the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District in Martinez, CA and AgLantis TM, a non-profit organization that has a triple bottom line – social, economic and environmental. A business model that provides healthy, fresh and sustainably produced local food and education for the community, this cutting-edge project is the first of its type in the entire country and a true groundbreaking enterprise in many ways.

With a 144’ X 42’ top-of-the-line Solar Light greenhouse donated by Agra Tech in Pittsburg, CA, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial greenhouses, the CoCo San Sustainable Farm will soon be growing produce on its 14.8 acres of public buffer land, using reclaimed, agricultural-grade water that would otherwise be discharged into the bay.

Carolyn Phinney is a retired UC Berkeley Ph.D. behavioral scientist, is the President of AgLantis and Executive Director of the CoCo San Sustainable Farm and the driving force behind this innovative project. She has already received an outstanding activist award for her work. “We’ll be growing fresh produce very soon using sustainable methods for local schools, the Contra Costa County Food Bank and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture boxes),” Phinney explained.“This year we will have a high-tech hydroponics greenhouse donated by Agra Tech, Inc, in operation, which will managed by our expert staff and volunteers.”

The farm will also be a school, according to Phinney. “One of our goals is to provide useful, hands-on science and engineering classes concerning soil science, water science, permaculture, sustainable organic agriculture, integrated-pest-management, low water use gardening and hydroponic greenhouse management. Every aspect of science touches a farm such as physics, soil science, hydrology, meteorology, and nutrition.  We are working with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a Teacher of the Year, the Community College Board, Diablo Valley and Los Medanos Community Colleges, JFKU and an expert who created internships for NASA to integrate the farm into school curricula.”

Food for local schools is a major priority for the CoCo San Sustainable Farm, Phinney said. “It costs about a dollar a day to feed a child a salad and most schools can’t afford that. The Contra Costa Food Bank cannot get a large supply of salad vegetables because they are highly perishable and only available locally from small backyard gardening. We will be providing low-cost sustainably grown produce for schools, the Contra Costa/Solano Food Bank and the community.”

Reclaiming water during one of California’s worst droughts of all time is a big deal and an integral part of the sustainability of its farm. Nearly 1 trillion gallons of reclaimed water are discharged into the greater San Francisco Bay waterways each year, according to the project’s web site salads4schools.org.  “UC Davis estimated the water shortfall in California’s Central Valley was 2.1 trillion gallons this past year and we dumped about half that much in the Bay Area alone,” Phinney said. “This water is high in nitrogen and phosphorus which is bad for the Bay, but great for agriculture, thereby providing us with free fertilizer. All it requires is one more treatment to make it ideal for agriculture, so why not take this water and use it to grow food, as opposed to letting it go into the Bay?” Furthermore, there are thousands of acres of public buffer land near the recycled water sources in this county alone, which can be used to grow produce and reduce nutritional poverty in our community.

Most people probably don’t realize that growing food contributes considerably to global warming, Phinney explained. “It makes up 25% of all global warming, because the state pumps water to farmers in the Central Valley using much electricity to do so. Then, we truck our produce to cities, using much gas to do so. The fertilizers that nonorganic farming uses also contribute to global warming. By using recycled water high in natural fertilizer and the public buffer land surrounding the water reclamation facilities and eating the produce locally, we’re nearly eliminated most of the carbon footprint of farming at the CoCo San Sustainable Farm.”

The farm will also be an incubator for green jobs, Phinney said. “We will partner with other local businesses to showcase their products and teach about jobs that are directly related to these industries. We’re in a great position to train people in high-tech organic agricultural methods in our new greenhouse, donated by Agra Tech, Inc., we can teach greenhouse growing as well, which is exciting. Hydroponics greenhouse growing can produce as much as 40 times the produce with 10% of the water. We believe hydroponics greenhouse growing right in the center of urban areas using recycled water and land nearby is the future of agriculture.”