Do you know much about the process and benefits of growing food hydroponically? Thankfully Tim Patrick of Island Farms did all the homework and legwork so you can enjoy nutrient dense fresh greens year-round!
Tim fondly remembers childhood summers spent helping his grandfather with his cattle farm and large family garden. Though his interest in farming was sparked, he ultimately chose a different career path. Tim spent almost 40 years in construction as a Class A Builder immersed in large-scale residential and commercial building projects. Not long after the recession of 2008, he closed his business and delved more deeply into researching and experimenting with growing crops hydroponically. Meanwhile, Janice, his wife of 21 years, retired from her long career as a teacher and started her own pet-sitting business. Retirement meant anything but relaxation for these two!
Five years ago, Janice’s father sadly passed away. This led to Janice and Tim moving into their newly inherited property of over 500 acres just twenty minutes down the road. Tim’s background in construction served him well as he went to work building a 24 x 60 greenhouse with mostly reclaimed material. Upon completion, he set up a hydroponic growing system with a nutrient film technique (NFT) involving a series of tubes to house the plants and pumps for all their water and nutrition needs.
It took two years of intensive research to find the right source of nutrition. The master blend Tim uses provides all the micronutrients needed to help his plants thrive! He uses an electric conductivity (EC) meter and routinely assesses water temperature and pH. He started with successfully growing a variety of lettuces, herbs and cherry tomatoes that he sold to local farmers markets. Then he added hydroponically grown sunflower and radish microgreens, which provide a fresh concentrated boost of both taste and nutrition! He also grows spinach, kale, swiss chard, arugula, romaine and bok choy. He loves the challenge of getting conditions just right to expand his offerings each season to bring more nutrient dense veggies and herbs to your plate!
Due to the different temperature and nutrition demands of certain crops, Tim needed separate growing space from his greenhouse. He is finishing up a hoop house this year where he will grow a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and strawberries. He will also grow green beans hydroponically outside! If you tasted his unbelievably sweet and fresh cherry tomatoes last year, you should be VERY excited about this expansion into additional varieties!
Tim’s 120 chickens also keep him busy! On a good day he gets close to 75 eggs from his Rhode Island Red cross hens who enjoy fresh air and non-GMO feed. His fresh eggs, greens, and tomatoes certainly make a wonderful omelet or frittata! When asked his favorite way to enjoy his bounty, Tim said with a laugh, “We eat a lot of salads with just ranch dressing. Well, I do like a raspberry vinaigrette sometimes. We make kale chips and I eat two eggs every single morning.” Customers rave about his salad mixes of lettuces like Harmony and Bellevue with its beautiful red tips. They also love the fresh eggs and how just a small serving of microgreens really increases the nutrient density of any meal!
Island Farms is a fitting name for their business as approximately 175 acres of their property is located on Elk Island, the largest island on the James River. They enjoy the serene setting and the fishing of course! Tim loves this endeavor he took on later in life and is truly passionate about the benefits of growing food hydroponically. Experience the taste and nutrition for yourself by adding fresh local produce from Island Farms to your cart!