What we see depends on what we look for.
– John Lubbock
Are you familiar with hydroponic food production? Maybe some, maybe little. Perhaps you have visited The Land exhibit at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Park near Orlando, Florida.
In any case, there is a quarter acre hydroponic farm in the Finger Lakes region on Route 20 just west of Skaneateles. More about this facility, named Strawberry Fields, in a moment.
Let’s first discuss hydroponic farming.
Many people think of hydroponics as growing plants without soil, but that is only a partial answer. Hydroponics production actually is defined as growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water. This solution substitutes for the soil in supplying the plants nutrient requirements.
Hydroponics culture is not new … one of the first experiments in water culture was conducted in England in 1699. The real pioneers of this field, Sachs and Knop, developed the method of growing plants without soil in the mid-19th century. Today hydroponics is used in commercial greenhouse vegetable production around the world.
Back to Strawberry Fields … the owners (Doug and Linda Eldred) grow strawberries and vegetables at their farm. They have farming in their blood (at least Doug), having been raised on a central New York farm, and continuing traditional farming of cattle feed primarily.
Their interest in hydroponics began when Linda found this strawberry hydroponics farm off the beaten path, 20 miles or so south of their current location. After several visits to pick strawberries and many questions/discussions later, the previous owner asked Linda if she would like to buy the facility and the rest was history. (The previous owner’s farm location was just too far off the traffic pattern to be successful … not the Eldred’s problem with their location.) This is their fourth year of operation and they continue to grow and add to their business.
They have 15,000 strawberry plants in their quarter acre that produce from mid-June to October, and a much smaller crop of vegetables. These strawberry plants would require 2 acres of land on a traditional farm. The nutrients are supplied three times daily and their yield is 1-2 lbs. of berries per plant for the season.
What you ask, are the advantages to using hydroponics? There are 3 main advantages: an 8 to 1 reduction in acreage, higher fruit yield, and a more controlled growing environment for the plants and you, the pickers. They sell only to consumers, who may pick their own berries or buy off the shelf. But the beauty for the picker is that the berries grow in 5 layers vertically and not on the ground. This creates a much easier job to find and pick the berries.
Looking for a weekend educational excursion for your family?
Come by Strawberry Fields and pick some berries and/or vegetables and learn, first hand, more about this rapidly growing, important farming process.
And, by the way, the town of Skaneateles, less than 2 miles to the east and located on Skaneateles Lake, is one of the prettiest in the Finger Lakes Region.
So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is completely up to you.
It’s up to you to keep improving your business innovation process and efforts. Lessons are all around you. In some cases, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. Or collaborating with you. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy improving your creativity, innovation and ideas?
Do you have a lesson about making your creativity better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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