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Alabama Original: Fields of Green Hydroponic Garden

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Alabama Original: Fields of Green Hydroponic Garden

Growing crops without soil! One North Alabama hydroponic garden does just that.

Lacey's Spring's Fields of Green garden plays a big part in feeding Huntsville's hungry.

"No soil. We aren't growing in soil," said Fields of Green Manager Caroline Blanchard.

The hydroponic garden cranks out lots of lettuce and gaggles of green beans. And they do it all in a pretty unique way. All of the crops are grown using just water, a mix of perlite and vermiculite and a few nutrients.

"(Like) nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium are our main ones," said Blanchard.

It's all done indoors, so you've got to "scrub up" before entering. This keeps bugs and dirt from getting to the plants which, does sound a bit ironic. In place of the sun, Blanchard uses LED lights to help the crops grow.

There's also a specific reason for the unique structures the crops are grown in.

"Compared to outdoor production, we're using about 95% less water because we're growing vertically. We're using a lot less space to grow a lot more plants," said Blanchard.

In the garden's 15,000 square foot facility, there are 21,000 plants. Of that 21,000 plants, 1,500 are sent out each week.

That food stays local. 10% of each harvest is donated to the community, to places like Manna House.

"We're a public charity. We feed everybody and anybody who comes through our doors," said Fran Fluhler, Director of Manna House.

Fluhler says this unique way of growing not only feeds the hungry but keeps the sick safe, too.

"One of the things that motivated us to do a hydroponic garden was our chemo patients who were coming in and being told, 'don't buy the market lettuce because it has E. Coli, or listeria, or salmonella, whatever. Suddenly, these people who love eating salads couldn't eat a salad!"

Fields of Green gives them food they know is safe and all-natural. Fluhler and Blanchard say they're doing exactly what they wanted to: helping the community and educating people about hydroponics.

"God opened it. I'm just his little friend," said Fluhler.

If you're interested, you can volunteer at Fields of Green or take a tour. More information can be found HERE. You can also text or call 256-653-7883.

For all of WAAY 31's past 'Alabama Originals,' click HERE.

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