Tasteful and Tasty - Indoor Farming

One of the great things about working in the growing field of hydroponics is the idea that you are doing something special. In our particular location, in Central Virginia, we really have the opportunity to amaze people with the technology that we can bring to the table (literally and figuratively)!

Generally when people visit us and see our systems they can’t believe that something like this exists in a small town in Virginia. Then, when we tell them our mission - that we are out to positively disrupt the way people look at, and grow fresh vegetables, they are quite intrigued. Indeed, ours is a mission that has many components.

First, we believe in what we do because the world is growing fast and our natural resources are limited. What this means is that there are more and more hungry people in our world all the time and the spaces and traditional mechanisms to feed those people are just not sufficient and sustainable. So, we could grow vegetables and feed people and feel good about it or we could develop technology, sell it, put people to work, feed even more people, and feel even better. This is kind of a utilitarian philosophy in that we would be doing “the most good for the most people.” That really has become kind of an unofficial ideal for most of us here. We want to change the world for the better - one crisp, healthy, mouthful of deliciousness at a time, but we want to do it in a way that provides lots of benefits.

To start, we are a business so AUTOCROP must make some money to continue as a going concern. Capitalism is certainly not a bad thing and we are in business to make a fair living and profit - the key word being fair. Part of our philosophy is to offer great new products and make enough money to invest in even greater products and techniques down the road while employing people. This feeds families in a lot of different ways.

We also do realize that to market our products, however, we must have something in the chain of value for all folks involved. So, we don’t really grow things for a living, but we produce equipment so others can. Now these others for the most part, at least with our vertical farming systems, are in the endeavor to themselves make a profit. So, we have to consider building great equipment that includes LED lighting, optimal nutrients, and labor-saving systems that allow someone growing to resell what they are growing and make a little money by doing it. Without having that part of the equation factored into our mix, we have no chance at doing the most good.

So, we want to make a fair profit, help others to make a fair profit, and feed lots of people or fill a fresh vegetable need for nutrition and healthy delicious vegetables, whether they be at a local food pantry or in a grocery store somewhere across the country.

The beauty of what we do also helps to hold pricing down for the consumer because there is less waste and spoilage with what our systems will grow. For example, most lettuce in the U.S. generally comes from the west coast. That means if you are in Virginia and your lettuce actually comes from California, then it has to make about a 3,000 mile journey. Factor in spoilage, cost of a tractor trailer, all the logistics involved, and things people don’t think about like bad weather and the shortage of drivers for those trailers. All those things add up to higher costs and/or shortages that ultimately affect the consumer.

With our industrial vertical racking systems, and indeed all of our hydroponics systems, it is possible to grow local, fresh, and year-round. That means, things like the strawberry you see in the picture for this blog can be grown even when there is snow on the ground like there is here today.

We also have smaller systems that we have developed as teaching tools or for personal or small business use. For education, many children or even adults sometimes have no idea where their food comes from. With our smaller systems, teachers can give students hands-on ways to learn about science, teamwork, math, communications, and many skills, all while actually growing something healthy they can eat.

In restaurants, what chef wouldn’t be proud to grow his or her own micro greens for that added touch of freshness? Or, if you just enjoy gardening, our small system lets you grow vegetables 365 days a year in the comfort of your own home. Safe, fresh, healthy, and best of all perhaps - grown by you!

So, that is a bit about what we do and who we are at AUTOCROP. We consider our method of doing business to always be innovative and tasteful in the way we present and conduct ourselves. We also like to think that vegetables grown with our systems are some of the most tasty in the world. And we’re just naive enough to believe that we can change the world each day by what we do. It’s a mission we can really sink our teeth into.

Ken Bryant