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Columbia Business Monthly

Charleston-Based Hydroponic Farm Expanding to Columbia

Vertical Roots is set to expand its controlled hydroponic farm for leafy greens to Columbia this week. The Charleston-based company repurposes retired shipping containers to create an indoor, fully automated vertical farm. Equipped with LED lighting and soil-less hydroponic systems, Vertical Roots delivers fresh, chemical-free vegetables year-round.

“Vertical Roots brings a fresh, innovative approach to farming and I’m excited to welcome them to the State Farmers Market campus in Columbia,” said Hugh Weathers, South Carolina commissioner of agriculture. “These new farmsites expand our state’s sustainable agribusiness offerings and deliver even more local produce for South Carolinians.”

Controlled hydroponic farming is the fastest-growing segment in the produce industry today. And for good reason; it has a 365-day growing season and is free from pesticides, unaffected by the weather, and protected by filtration from waterborne pathogens.

In addition, 95 percent of leafy greens currently come from the west coast, which can add up to a two week travel period from harvest to distribution. Vertical Roots is here to change that by placing farms as close to the point of distribution as possible. The first farm is set to arrive in Columbia this week and will be located on Wholesale Lane on the South Carolina State Farmers Market campus. This location will allow Vertical Roots produce to arrive on retail shelves within 1-2 days from harvest, making it the freshest product in the market with a naturally longer shelf life.

“Vertical Roots is revolutionizing the way communities grow, distribute, and consume food,” said Andrew Hare, GM and co-founder of Vertical Roots. “We are thrilled to bring our products to Columbia and look forward to giving back to the community through donations, building local partnerships, and offering sustainable jobs for local farmers.''

Founded and headquartered in Charleston, Vertical Roots’ growing pods are automated and climate-controlled, greatly reducing water, energy, and contamination risks. In fact, Vertical Roots’ pods use 98 percent less water than traditional farming methods, helping deliver the highest possible yield with the lowest possible waste.