Farmer's market goes hi-tech to save space

Published: Apr. 27, 2012 at 5:08 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2012 at 6:21 PM CDT
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Multiple crops can be grown in the same tower
Multiple crops can be grown in the same tower

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Brilliant blue sky draped over vibrant greenery reminds one of country afternoons, but the Hollygrove Market offers a taste of the country right off Carrollton Avenue.

"I'm kind of interested in going green, organic and trying to get healthier, so that's why I was interested in coming to see what they had, " said market customer Stephanie Saavedra.  "I got strawberries, cherry tomatoes.  I got potatoes. They had acorn squashes; they had a lot of variety."

Market manager and produce buyer Alyssa Denny runs the little oasis.

"People can come in here and see food growing," said Denny.  "I work with kids a lot both here and in other settings and they really were thinking carrots grow on trees."

The lettuce, herbs and tomatoes in Doug Jacobs' garden at the market don't grow on trees either.  In fact the entire operation looks a little... different.

"What you get is a vigorous growth, and reduced water consumption," said Jacobs.  "We use 90% less water than conventionally grown plants in soil and we also don't get any agricultural run off."

Jacobs uses aeroponic growing columns. The plants grown in the columns get all their nutrition from water and dissolved minerals pumped up the columns and rained down onto the plants.

"It's less labor intensive," said Jacob.  "You don't have to bring in soil from outside the city, you don't have to weed, you don't have to till."

Because the plants grow vertically, more than twice the vegetables can be grown in the same space.

Jacobs believes this process is a major solution for food shortage issues.  He said it also helps reduce fuel needs and can help make problem areas productive.

"We really think this is a real solution to the blighted property problem that we have," he said.  "We can help grow food in the community and help provide nutritious food to people that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it."

The towers start at about $500 and you get 25 plant spaces.  You can have different vegetables growing on the same stand.  For example, lettuce at the top and tomatoes on the bottom give you year-round salad in your backyard.

Denny said she loves the addition to the Hollygrove Market.

"Initially when Doug came in - I really worship the soil - so I was like, 'I'm not sure about this.'  But it's been great having him around and people love it."

She said salad greens have a very short shelf life so it's great to pull fresh greens when needed.

You can check out the aeroponics and other produce at the Hollygrove Market and farm every Tuesday and Saturday.

Monday, May 14th is the market's annual fundraiser, "Party in the Garden".

For tickets you can go to their website,