Nestled behind a home in Slaton, the owner of Ogallala Greens checks his variety of vegetables blooming over nutrient-rich water. These produce, which started selling in April, reached people across West Texas, including Lubbock restaurants and Midland residents.
"We really think that we can have an impact in the future of growing in this region," said Cory Roof, owner of the hydroponics farm. "We call ourselves Ogallala because of the aquifer, which is about 70% depleted. These systems use about 90% less water than the usual farm."
This is not Roof's first job concerning plant science. From 2016-2020, Roof worked at a Wyoming science lab for Plenty, a San Francisco-based company that aims to make indoor vertical farming more common. His former employers sold him materials for $1, which included $200,000 worth of equipment. Once fully set up, the gear could help grow about 4,000 plants. Currently, Ogallala Greens grows about 400 plants.
His father sold him the land in Slaton, and a grant from Texas Tech's College of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Accelerator Program helped fund the greenhouse-like facility and build their system - Viridis.
The farm currently grows brassicas and lettuce, Chinese cabbage, and some peppers, and Roof plans to grow tomatoes and blueberries later. They will add a traditional farmer's garden in the summer of 2023 and hope to experiment with making sweeter lettuce in the future.
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