Tucked in the very back corner on Firefly Distillery’s grassy lawn sits a next-generation hydroponic farm inside a shipping container: King Tide Farms, owned and operated by lifelong Charlestonian Hamilton Horne.
The near shutdown and delay of transportation and production in the country during the pandemic led Horne to a realization about the state of produce. For the next two years, Horne spent countless hours studying hydroponic farms, different vegetables, and the logistics of running a farm out of a shipping container, including the constraints, the possibilities, and the benefits to local restaurants and chefs.
Prior to this, Horne never really knew what he wanted to do. He worked odd jobs as a line cook in several restaurants, went to the University of Mississippi for a business degree, worked in agricultural chemical sales for three years, and as a real estate agent for more than a decade.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Horne said. “And I’ve spent so many years trying to figure out something to do. I tried to do an oyster farm; tried to do a mushroom farm back before it was cool … And then finally, during Covid, I was like, ‘You know, something’s gotta change. I gotta change it. I gotta do it. If now’s not the time, then when is?’ And then it just all hit perfectly.”
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