Photo courtesy of Friends of the Farms | Hydroponically grown basil thrives at Vireo Farms.

Photo courtesy of Friends of the Farms | Hydroponically grown basil thrives at Vireo Farms.

City leases land to hydroponic farming enterprise

The city of Bainbridge Island signed a 21-year lease earlier this month with Mark Taylor and Tracy Lang of Vireo Farms, allowing them to build a hydroponic agriculture facility on publicly owned farmland, Friends of the Farms recently announced.

When completed, Vireo Farm will be an 1,800-square-foot facility capable of housing 8,500 plants.

Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture, which is a method of growing plants without soil by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.

According to Friends of the Farms, “The hydroponic process is so efficient that they expect to harvest 1,500 to 1,800 plants per week, staring with heirloom lettuce, basil, bok choy, arugula and other herbs.”

Taylor and Lang’s prototype operation, in their home, is already producing vegetables reportedly being sold to several restaurants on the island.

“Amid ever-growing concerns about climate change and the effects of industrial agriculture, the move toward local, sustainable produce is increasingly important,” wrote Friends of the Farms officials in the recent announcement. “The city of Bainbridge Island is leading the charge by creating sustainable, city-run farmland, and searching for fresh approaches to what locally grown food looks like.”

Using organic seeds and growing materials, Vireo Farm will reportedly be able to provide fresh food year-round while reducing transportation costs, energy consumption and packaging waste.

Friends of the Farm is a nonprofit activist organization working to protect and enhance local farmland, with the ultimate goal of accruing a minimum of

180 acres of permanently protected land on Bainbridge Island for the purpose of agricultural development.

“To eat local, communities must support local farmers,” Friends of the Farms officials wrote. “The city of Bainbridge Island is at the forefront of this movement with over 60 acres of publicly owned farmland, and a new hydroponic facility that will help nourish the community.”

Learn more at www.friendsofthefarms.org.

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