From the outside, it just looks like a nice, good-sized metal shed. Inside, though, Kristopher Sutton has taken on the hybrid role of farmer and scientist in the backyard of his Enfield home. His business, Sutton’s Vertical Gardens, which he runs with his wife Brenda, is as fresh as his produce, with the first plants harvested this week.
SVG runs out of a converted 320-square-foot shipping container turned into a hydroponic operation by Farm Box Foods, a company in Colorado.
As he was growing up in Milford, Sutton’s mother was an avid flower grower, and his grandparents in Newfoundland had a farm and sold produce “around the bay.” Seven or eight years ago, he bumped up his gardening game and built a greenhouse out of a trampoline a friend at work gave him.
Like everyone who grows tomatoes, Sutton became a popular neighbor. “It just went from there,” he said. “I did a lot of experimenting with different greens. I found greens neat to grow because you can cut them and they’ll grow back. Kale, Swiss chard, it went with every meal. Then I started getting into vegetables, tomatoes, a lot of peppers; every year I would try a different vegetable. I had to give a lot of it away because I quickly found a single fella didn’t eat that much.”
The vertical hydroponic farm, or VHF, produces 1,026 plants per week and costs US $150,000, plus shipping. “It’s a huge investment, a scary investment. I didn’t just wake up one morning and say, ‘Let me spend as much money as I can on a unit’ and take a gamble.”
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