With the use of agricultural technology, Vertical Roots farm in West Columbia created a packaging system for its leafy greens that cut down the company’s plastic usage by 30% and extends the shelf life of the lettuce.
In 2015, high school friends Andrew Hare and Matt Daniels created the idea for Vertical Roots, now the largest hydroponic container farm in the country. Hare is the general manager of the company and Daniels acts as the chief horticulturist.
The first Vertical Roots opened in Charleston and expanded with its second farm site in West Columbia in 2019. Vertical Roots parent company, AmplifiedAg, manufactures the container farms and farm technology of which Vertical Roots operates.
The farms are part of a growing industry called controlled environmental agriculture (CEA) that uses technology to ramp up nutrient-rich food production year around.
Hydroponics helps the farm use 98% less water than traditional farming, according to Hare. Their technology creates an indoor environment to grow lettuce on the East Coast. Most lettuce in the U.S. comes from California and Arizona, where temperatures do not fluctuate much throughout the year, traveling 2,000 miles from farm to table. Vertical Roots offers a solution for local lettuce.