Peek Inside a Hydroponic Spinach Farm


Farming has always been a risky endeavor, dependent on the assistance of forces that are completely outside of human control, like weather. But today there’s a growing interest in hydroponics, an indoor farming technique that leaves little up to chance. The latest installment in the web series "How Does It Go?" takes viewers inside BrightFarms, a spinach farm in Pennsylvania, that makes use of that method.

Hydroponic agriculture is both futuristic and strangely quaint. As host Nicole Cotroneo Jolly explains in the video, humans have been growing plants in water for thousands of years, but the practice nearly vanished here in the last century. Again and again, Americans tried to modernize the concept, but each time the technology was just not quite developed enough. By the 1970s, the movement had more or less died out in the U.S.

But now, with the help of plastic and computers, hydroponic farms like the one featured above have begun cropping up around the country. Supporters of the practice say hydroponic farms, especially those that recycle their water, are more environmentally friendly, less labor-intensive, and more productive than conventional farms. But that doesn't mean that maintaining them is easy: Hydroponic farmers have to contend with high start-up costs, and the fact that plants grown in water are especially susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.

To combat the latter issue, BrightFarms head farmer Jason Jackson has turned to another age-old practice: companion planting. It seems to be working; his farm produces more than 75,000 pounds of spinach each year. Check out the video above for a tour of the farm.

Header image from YouTube // How Does It Grow?