Grown in self-contained, sustainable hydroponic greenhouses
Demand for local butter lettuce good in Louisiana
Tapping into the local food supply trend, one Louisiana-based grower is seeing a demand for its product, butter lettuce, grow in a new type of greenhouse.
“We’re greenhouse grown so our supply of butter lettuce right now is great,” says Kohlie Frantzen of Helical Outpost Farms, LLC. “A recent cold snap wiped out a lot of outdoor growers just north of us but we were fine because we’re sheltered.”
Small but mighty units
Helical’s greenhouses, or Outposts, are self-contained sustainable hydroponic greenhouses and community hubs in Lafayette, Louisiana. Helical grows some 2,3000 heads of lettuce per week in a 30’ by 96’ foot unit. That’s just enough to send out locally around the Lafayette region. “We’re fairly hyper local so everything we do is within 60 miles of us,” says Frantzen. Helical supplies leafy greens, vining crops and micro greens to retailers such as Whole Foods and others while also working with its local Catholic services to provide food for the food insecure.
“Demand is quite strong for butter lettuce,” says Frantzen, noting that given the greenhouse growing environment, pricing tends to be stable and consistent for the vegetable. “We’re seeing more and more of it here in the Lafayette area. Right now the demand is good.”
New Year’s pick up
That said, Helical did see a change in the New Year with demand. “Our orders recently increased for butter lettuce but we’re right at the beginning of the year when everybody has resolutions on the brain,” says Frantzen. “Looking ahead we expect it’s going to be consistent if not greater just based on what we’re seeing in the volume of orders. Right now based on what we’re seeing we’ll likely see increased demand in the short term.”
Meanwhile what may also grow in demand are the Outpost units, which Helical says use 80 per cent less water and can grow up to three acres of conventional farming product in one 6,000 square foot site. Helical currently has two of these farms—one in Louisiana and another in Berryville, Va. and is about to add possibly two more in Lafayette.
For more information:
Helical Outpost Farms, LLC
Publication date: 1/19/2018
Author: Astrid van den Broek
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