Grow your own: Operation Food Search experiments with produce

Operation Food Search growing hydroponic vegetables
Growing leafy greens indoors year-round with a Flex Farm hydroponic system. Photo credit Courtesy of Operation Food Search

We all know we're supposed to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but for many families in our area who live in a food desert or are relying on food pantries, that's difficult to accomplish.

Operation Food Search is trying a new approach--an indoor, hydroponic farming operation--thanks to the donation of two Flex Farm units donated by UnitedHealthcare Community Plan and Fork Farms.

"We will be able to hydroponically grow about 15 pounds of produce per unit, per week," says Trina Ragain, Operation Food Search Director of Policy & Innovation. "This is a great opportunity to explore the potential that hydroponics offers when we look at how we can produce more fresh produce to get out in to the community."

Trina was a guest on Total Information AM. Click to hear the podcast.

The Flex Farm is a vertical column of lights with pods that go 360-degrees around the lights.

Flex Farm hydroponic system at Operation Food Search
Photo credit Courtesy of Operation Food Search

Trina says they've started out by growing leaf lettuce because it's an easy crop to grow, "But you can actually grow fresh herbs in them, any type of leafy greens. We also have plans once we get the hang of things to try growing some tomatoes."

Ragain says it only takes about 30 minutes of maintenance each week to keep the units functioning.

If all goes well, they hope to add more units in the future.