"On a cold, windy day, Win Goodridge went to his basement to get some fresh chard and lettuces from his garden. His is an indoor hydroponic garden, which can yield fresh veggies even in January.
“It’s pretty successful,” said Goodridge, standing in a small space in his Hawthorn Woods basement as lettuces, pepper plants, spinach and chard glowed green beneath special lighting.
Goodridge, other Lake County residents, a Grayslake nonprofit and Waukegan students, among others are reaping the benefits of growing vegetables indoors year-round with hydroponic systems.
In Lake County, Grow Masters, a hydroponics business in Gurnee, has recently doubled its space; and another hydroponics store, Lucy’s Hydroponics, which caters to both those growing indoor vegetables as well as marijuana for medical use, just opened in Fox Lake.
Many reasons exist for this trend besides having fresh greens year-round. Kevin Westing, farm operations manager and co-founder of the nonprofit Growing Healthy People/ Grow Well Farms in Grayslake, said hydroponics is the way of the future because of climate change.
“With droughts and polar vortexes, our climate is unstable,” Westing said. “Growing in greenhouses with ‘ponics allows this new wave of farmers to control their growing environment. At the same time, they can maximize crop production in abandoned warehouses or rooftops. They do not need acres of land.” he said.
The hydroponic method also conserves resources, said his Growing Healthy People partner Cheryl Besenjak, a certified master gardener from the University of Illinois Extension Service.
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