Opening week at Pearl Market could not have been more perfect. Our farmers filled the alley with plump strawberries, fresh greens, radishes, leeks, greenhouse tomatoes, asparagus and a variety of herbs. New and returning vendors had an exciting selection of goods for purchase and Mother Nature cooperated and blessed the alley with sunshine and warmth as the 2012 season kicked off with a bang.
New to Pearl Market this year is an innovative, cco-friendly vendor whose theories are based on water recycling and the renovation of warehouse space for the use of year-round, locally-grown food production systems. Warehouse Hydroponic Systems, the brain child of Doug Helser and Max Salinger, is bringing an exciting new twist to organic, water-based gardening. Growing tables hand built by Doug and his son have successfully yielded opal basil, wild arugula, black and red seeded lettuce, with many more crop offerings to come as the season progresses. With focal points on recycling water reclaimed from rooftops and the reuse of nutrients from drained water, this ground-breaking business with its forward thinking concepts is certainly a vendor to watch.
Futurist goals include switching to LED lighting for a more energy efficient sun source and incorporating tilapia ponds for the use of nutrients from fish waste. Pair that with the concept of teaching the public how to construct these environments in unused warehouse spaces for year-round produce production and it looks like the future is extremely bright for Warehouse Hydroponic Systems.
Max, an OSU Horticulture graduate in the crop science field state, "It has become increasingly difficult for people living in an urban environment to gain access to and afford healthy fresh food choices, especially at the local level. By coupling techniques such as rain water mitigation and hydroponics we hope to be able to provide a quality food source as well as properly manage our natural resources. We also have aspirations of working with local restaurants and chefs to provide year-round access to specialty crops from a local source."
A vendor to watch indeed.
Keep your eyes open for the following produce in the coming weeks: garlic scapes, peas, spinach and an early tomato yield. And if you've yet to start your home garden, many of our farmers are offering starter plants to inspire you to get diggin'. All the more reason to get downtown and experience Pearl Market.