The advantages of hydroponic growing gardens and farms are gaining interest around the world. Hydroponics uses less water than traditional farming, is environmentally friendly, and produces more plants, fruits and vegetables. Also, it requires less space and uses less energy.
The hydroponic method of growing can be accomplished through vertical gardens on urban rooftops, in closed domes and greenhouses, on open land farms or in your own home.
Check out these groovy hydroponic farms and gardens around the world:
Epcot Center Green Houses
The Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, consists of several connected greenhouses where fruits and vegetables grow in the air, water and sand. The plants grow in vertical towers, conveyor belts, above-ground pipes, cool containers and spiral structures. The Land tour takes visitors on a groovy ride through its Sustainable Agriculture and Research Center, where these methods of growing are used to cultivate a spectacular variety of herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers.
The aeroponic method of growing, where roots are exposed to the air and sprayed with nutrient-based water, is used to grow Brussels sprouts, okra and herbs in the Pavilion. You can also see edible flowers, such as marigolds, poppies, lavender, viola and snap dragons, growing in an aeroponic vertical tower.
The first aeroponic vertical garden located in an airport opened in 2013 at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois. A water-nutrient solution cycles through 26 towers that hold over 1,100 plant roots suspended in the air. The 928-square-foot indoor garden produces a fresh supply of greens that are then used by chefs at Stanley’s Blackhawks Lounge, Wicker Seafood and Sushi Restaurant, Wolfgang Puck and other airport restaurants. STEMists can find the special garden in between O’Hare’s terminals 2 and 3 in the mezzanine level of the Rotunda Building.
Miyagi Prefecture Farm
Plant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura converted a Sony semiconductor plant in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture into the world’s largest indoor farm. About the size of a football field, the farms uses 17,500 LED lights spread across 18 cultivation racks, each towering 16 levels high. The LED bulbs provide a most favorable wavelength of light that increases plant growth by 250 percent! The indoor farm decreases water usage to only 1% of what’s used in conventional farms and a 50% decrease in produce waste. An astounding 10,000 heads of lettuce are cultivated each day.
Gotham Greens in New York City operates three rooftop greenhouses that use the hydroponic method of growing. The first Gotham Green facility, located in Brooklyn, produces over 100 tons of greens each year. A second location in Brooklyn sits atop Whole Foods Market, and produces over 200 tons of greens and tomatoes. Gotham Greens’ largest rooftop greenhouse is located in Queens and boasts 60,000 square feet of growing space.
Hydro-Taste U-pick Farm
STEMists can pick their own fruits and vegetables at Hydro-Taste Hydroponic U-pick Farm located in Myakka City, Florida, about 22 miles east of Sarasota. Visitors can pick from 250,000 hydroponic plants, including strawberries, blueberries, kale, corn, peppers and cabbage. The benefits of hydroponic farming are evident at Hydro-Taste. At this farm, 60,000 strawberry plants grow on a half-acre and use only 900 gallons of water a day, whereas the same amount of strawberry plants would take up seven acres on a traditional soil-based ground farm and use over 140,000 gallons of water a day.
In 2011, Lufa Farms in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, built the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse that spans 30,000 square feet of sustainable hydroponics. The main goal of Lufa Farms, like many city rooftop gardens, is to grow food for taste and nutrition – close to where the people live. Its first harvest of tomatoes was distributed to 400 local markets and restaurants.
“Water Works” Groovy Lab in a Box
Hydroponic farms and gardens can be found in all parts of the world. However, if one is not close enough to visit you and your STEMists can learn more about hydroponic systems with the educational STEM activities found in the “Water Works” groovy box — explore different types of hydroponic systems, seed germination and photosynthesis! Build a water reservoir, test tube bean stalk, hanging raised beds, a groovy space barn and much, much, more! Practice essential 21st century science skills: pipetting, measuring volume and length, making observations and collecting data. Join Now! and challenge your STEMists to a monthly Groovy Lab in a Box, full of everything a child needs to learn about and do hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) investigations. Our monthly box activates thinking, questioning, inquiring and original creation as we guide children through scientific inquiry and engineering design process.