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Hydroponic Farm Alegría Fresh Pushes the Limits of Produce Power Featured

Alegría Farms brings a new concept to commercial farming. Alegría Farms brings a new concept to commercial farming.

 

Eric Cutter is a serial entrepreneur. His latest project caught Rosebud’s attention because he’s producing massive amounts of hydroponically grown food for his community on less than a quarter-acre of space. His method? Vertical hydroponic towers by Vertigro. He's changing the future of food production through hydroponic farming.

Cutter is also changing the way his community buys produce, hiring local youth to run “produce routes” (instead of the traditional newspaper routes), delivering bouquets of fresh, healthy greens to make extra money. And it’s catching on.

Rosebud: What is Alegría Fresh?

Eric: Alegría Fresh is kind of a crazy idea that started about two years ago. It was all about pushing the limits of efficiency. We use 90% less water, 50% less fertilizer, 70% less land and zero toxic pesticides. And we produce food that’s about seven times more nutrient-rich than any food you can buy in the market.

Rosebud: That’s incredible.

Eric: It’s really not a fair fight. The food you get in the supermarket is already 4-5 days old, and that’s the inherent problem with big agriculture. I’m not raggin’ on big agriculture; they’re trying to feed everybody they can. But the difference is that we really need to find solutions for the urban environment. So this is my guerrilla, high-performance urban agriculture model.

Rosebud: I was blown away by some of the flavors you have in this garden. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Eric: That’s where the rubber hits the road. If you taste these vegetables, you’re convinced. I can talk all day, tell you what’s in it biochemically and so on. It won’t make any difference until you taste them. If you think you know what cilantro is supposed to taste like, come in here and taste it. If you think arugula is powerful, taste our arugula.

Rosebud: The difference is incredible when you’re used to store-bought lettuce. The flavors can almost be overwhelming.

Eric: I have a little story to tell you because it lends credence to what you said. My brother’s kids came in here and they swear they don’t eat salad. After half an hour, there must be like a grazing gene or something, because they started picking at the lettuce. All of a sudden it was like, “Uncle Eric, what’s this? What’s this? What else can I eat? This tastes really good!” The lights went on.

One of the things I’m really interested in is reconnecting people, especially youth, to their food supply. You’re seeing kids getting early onset diabetes, and many are suffering from obesity at 16 or 17 years old. It’s all diet.

If you taste these vegetables, you’re convinced.

My overriding goal here is to teach people how to grow their own food in very fresh, high-performance fashion – very resource-efficient. And have par-ents be able to reconnect their kids, not to their iPhones, but to the salad they might eat.

We’ve started teaching classes for families. It’s a very nurturing energy here. Parents are interested in what their kids are eating. So that is really what my big focus is now: How do we introduce kids to this?

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A look at Alegría Fresh through the eyes of a child.
Last modified on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 16:46

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