“I believe someday great chefs will be known not only by the
recipes and methods they cook their food with, but by the
recipes and methods they grow their food with.”
Chef Adam Navidi, at his Future Foods Farm
Unless you live under a rock, you undoubtedly have heard about the drought situation in California. All of us in California are working to curb our water use. But, there’s one man in Southern California doing his part to save water.
Adam Navidi’s daily ritual involves harvesting fresh greens and other vegetables from his future farm. But it’s how he grows them that’s far from routine.
Adam has figured out a way to produce organic fruits and vegetables in the middle of a severe drought. He owns and operates Future Foods Farms in Brea, California. His farm is an aquaponic farm, which means the tomatoes, kale, microgreens and even edible flowers don’t grow in soil. Instead, the roots sit in water, and the plants are held up by a raft made of recycled Styrofoam shipping containers.
Inside each of the 10 greenhouses on the farm are small pools containing tilapia. The fish produce nutrients that feed the plants organically. The plants absorb those nutrients and also filter the water that goes back into the fish tanks.
There are huge benefits to aquaponic farming. Aquaponic plants grow two to three times faster as they do in soil and use a reduced amount of water. In fact, he produces one head of lettuce with one gallon of water versus conventional farming, or growing in the soil, which takes 10 to 15 gallons of water to produce a head of lettuce. Aquaponic farming also takes up less space and there is less evaporation. He has lettuce growing vertically in one greenhouse.
His water bill for the nursery that used to sit where his farm is now averaged about $1,200 to $1,600 a month. His current water bill ranges from $140 to $160 per month.
Mr. Navidi not only sells to local restaurants through local farmer’s markets, he also serves fresh greens daily at his own restaurant called Oceans and Earth in Yorba Linda.
Future Food Farms has opened the farm up to local colleges for research. He also hosts tours and tastings for people interested in learning how to start their own home aquaponic farm.