There is a heightened awareness of where our food is coming from and how it is grown. Many are familiar with and seek out organically-grown produce. And then there is hydroponic farming which has been around for centuries. It is not organic, but it is 100 percent pesticide-free. So what’s the difference between being organic and hydroponic and why isn’t hydroponic produce organic?
The major difference between organic and hydroponic farming is organic plants are grown in the ground in soil, while hydroponic plants are grown above ground under greenhouses. To be organic, you must grow in soil. The soil used to grow organic food is enriched with fertilizers and may contain animal manure and other animal-derived products. With hydronic farming, there is no dirt used. The seedlings are planted in elevated trays and water-soluble minerals are fed through an irrigation process directly to the roots of the plants.
Since there is no soil used, this type of farming is very clean, pesticide-free, and produces nutrient-dense food that uses only one-tenth the amount of water than traditional farming. Locally, we have a hydroponic farm called The Homestead Hydroponic Farm. They use a system called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) instead of pesticides or any other sprays used as a repellant. This is an eco-friendly pest control method which incorporates insects, such as lady bugs, and flowers. Both act as natural protection for the produce. Because the growing takes place above the ground in greenhouses, twice the amount of food can be produced in the same amount of space with longer growing seasons. It is a very safe and nutritious way of growing food.
Hydroponic produce is available from Homestead at both the Wednesday Phillipini Farmhouse Market and on Saturday at the Sarasota Farmers Market, nearby the downtown Bikram Yoga studio. They sell beautiful lettuces, tomatoes, and edible flowers. The farm is located next to the Myakka River State Park just 20 miles or so outside of town. You can be certain you are are eating clean, pesticide-free, and local food.