Close your eyes and picture a farm. What do you see? Chances are, you’re imagining a carefully tilled series of row after row of crops, flanked by rows of soil. Such has been the unwavering image of agriculture for hundreds of years – until now.
Hydroponic farming eliminates one of the most familiar aspects of farming: soil. In place of soil, hydroponic farming relies on nutrient-rich water suspended in an alternative form of root support. If such a description sounds futuristic, it is. The farming innovation allows food suppliers to grow food indoors amidst any climate, in any location, and at any time of the year.
Texas Green Star is an organically-certified hydroponic farm located in Sanger, Texas, a city with a population of fewer than 10,000 residents. The 332-acre facility produces leafy greens year-round, avoiding the growing challenges that traditional agricultural farmers face thanks to the $15 million USDA Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan.
Obstacles such as temperature, weather, insects, and other environmental issues can create a limited annual growing window for traditional vegetable production. By providing the financial means to make improvements to the existing facility, NAC is able to provide the necessary machinery and equipment for Texas Green Star to use nutrient film technique (NFT) hydroponic systems and soilless culture.
NFT largely avoids the problem of “grit” contamination that occurs in commercially prepared salads that use soil-grown plants. With an increasing overtone from consumers toward food safety, hydroponic food production is able to conserve water, allow for year-round production, and provide consistent quality and availability of leafy vegetables.
The loan will not only provide new equipment but also working capital for the startup operation. Cesar Rodriguez, CEO and Co-Founder of Texas Green Star, has more than 35 years of experience in the international agri-business industry and will lead a new team of 48 employees to provide locally grown agricultural products to consumers in the area.
With the help of North Avenue Capital, Texas Green Star will be able to implement a food safety program to guarantee foodborne disease-free produce, while also offering the best organically grown fresh greens to the Texas market.
Operations began in early 2021 after the purchase of new equipment and other improvements to the existing nursery. Texas Green Star plans to be at full production by the end of the year and plans to partner with local school districts to provide a healthy food alternative within its community.
The result? The cleanest salad you can imagine, manufactured in a manner you never envisioned.