Community Supported Agriculture Program
Looking at the Wall of Lettuce we were about to harvest, made us realize there was no way we were going to be able to eat it all by ourselves not even with our Greenhouse Manager, Keil Plotczyk, and our family helping out. We needed to bring in our Neighbors to keep from turning the best salad lettuce ever into juice.
The image above of Butter Lettuce is only half of the Lettuce Wall as the other half is Romaine Lettuce. So the first thing we had to do was invite the Neighbors over to see the Wall of Lettuce before the harvest and ask them to join our CSA. We plan to produce a Wall of Lettuce like this every 6 Weeks right through Winter at 6,000 ft. up in the White Mountains of AZ. In Spring and Summer, the grow out time should be around 4 Weeks. At $3 for the Butter Lettuce and $2 for the Romaine, it wasn’t a hard sell.
Once we had two families eager to join our CSA, all we had to do was spend a few hours harvesting, washing and bagging the Lettuce. We explained to our new CSA Members that we are selling “Living Lettuce” with the Roots attached, which means it will last at least two full weeks in cold storage if it’s carefully bagged.
Careful bagging means gently placing the Lettuce into a Large Zip-Lock or Plastic Shell with some water to keep the Roots fresh and then removing a lot of the air if it’s in a bag so the Lettuce stays as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
Below is a photo of what the lettuce looks like before the Roots are washed and trimmed. The Tray in this Photo above is a reminder that this Lettuce is Aquaganic™ meaning it is grown in an Aquaponics System where Live Fish fertilize the Plants.
Above and below, Oliver Duffy, our System Engineer, holds up two of these massive heads of Butter Lettuce right after they have been pulled out of his proprietary Vertical System we call “Duffy Ducts”, a Vertical Growing System.
The Roots need to be cleaned and trimmed before the Lettuce goes into the Bag or Shell. It’s amazing that Lettuce actually grows these long Roots.
It’s easy to deal with all of these Roots when you grow your Lettuce in the Nutrient Rich Aquaponic Water that runs down the Ducts in Oliver’s Duffy Ducts™ Vertical System. But when you grow Lettuce in a Deep Media Grow Bed with Grow Bed Media like Hydroton, it’s a different story. All those Roots you see that were easily pulled out of a Vertical Duct, get tangled up in the Hydroton and need to be separated out.
Lettuce grows beautifully in Deep Media Grow Beds full of Hydroton (red expanded clay pebbles), but you can’t sell it or store it as “Living Lettuce” with the Roots attached because there is no way to separate the Roots from the Media. This Romaine Lettuce was cut off above the Roots.
Oliver uses Ducts to grow our Lettuce Vertically, but they are harvested from a Horizontal configuration. In the photo below, you can see the Roots growing out of the bottom of one of the Ducts.
Once the Lettuce is bagged, it’s placed in Bins and taken to our dedicated Harvest Refrigerator.
Where it is picked up by our Neighbors who have just joined our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program.
We expect this Butter and Romaine Lettuce to stay fresh for a minimum of two weeks in our Refrigerator or our Neighbors’ Refrigerators as the Roots are attached and in water. These heads of Lettuce hardly realize they’ve been harvested.
Thank You for Visiting our Blog. It’s such a joy to share what we’re up to here at Aquaponics USA. Next Post will be about “How To Make Fresh Salsa In Your Food Processor”. And now I’m off to make a salad for dinner.