Lake Region Electric Cooperative highlights hydroponics

After their first produce sale to Larry's Supermarket in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota's Lake Region Electric Cooperative's latest pilot program on hydroponics is in full production.

Since installing a hydroponic GroShed at their headquarters in July 2021, LREC has been learning the ins and outs of hydroponics and what it takes to grow different varieties of lettuce and peppers. In addition, LREC has been using the GroShed as an example of beneficial electrification using renewable energy sources, according to an LREC news release.

"The process of growing hydroponic vegetables has been fun and challenging," said Candace Rastedt, an LREC employee who volunteers in the GroShed. "Figuring out planting and harvest timelines, along with which varieties thrive best in a hydroponic setting, has been like an exciting science experiment these past few months."

"Once our GroShed was delivered, we met with both Larry's and Manna Food Co-op to see what their needs were," said Dylan Aafedt, another LREC employee volunteer. "Our goal is to provide our local communities with the opportunity to purchase fresh, organic, locally grown produce year-round."

LREC says there is still a lot to learn about hydroponics in general. According to the release, the team still experiences setbacks occasionally but is working to eventually have a smooth operation with predictable harvest timelines and quantities.

"The more we understand and can improve, the better it will be for those relying on our produce," said Hannah Cox, another LREC employee volunteer. "At the end of the day, we are here to serve our communities as best as we can, and if that future involves hydroponics, we want to jump in feet first."

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