Oppy and two partners are set to ship their first hydroponic tabletop strawberries in mid-December. Grown by Santa Maria, California-based Red Dog Management, the plants were rooted on elevated tables in Santa Maria in the first week of October.
Oppy, Red Dog, and the third partner in the endeavor, Farmers Gate, formed New Wave Berry LLC for the venture. Produce will ship under the Ocean Spray license in Happy Berry-branded packs.
The newly-constructed high tunnel facility grows protected strawberries on tables raised to chest height, making labor more ergonomically friendly for those planting, tending, and harvesting the berries, according to Oppy.
Growing hydroponically also requires fewer inputs than field-grown strawberries. Because they are elevated, the ground beneath them does not require the intense fumigation between planting cycles typically applied in the traditional production. Berries receive just the right nutrition, at just the right time while dramatically reducing water use, and greenhouse efficiencies enable all of those benefits for year-round production.
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