Natural Grocers is bringing local hydroponic, organic produce grown within feet from its customers with the launch of its new hydroponic GardenBox.
The pilot program, which takes place at its Green Mountain store in Lakewood, Colorado, grows an array of organic leafy greens that travel just 82 steps from hydroponic garden to customer. GardenBox delivers a trifecta of value to customers: living produce with roots intact for a longer shelf life and better flavor, certified organic by Where Food Comes From Organic and the Clean Hydroponic Produce seal—at Natural Grocers’ Always Affordable prices.
A variety of GardenBox lettuces such as Hampton, Brentwood, Alkindus, Tropicana, Muir, Marciano and Truchas will be sold at the Green Mountain store beginning July 7. All GardenBox greens will be priced at $1.99 per head.
On the outside, the GardenBox looks like a regular shipping container—it’s inside the GardenBox where the seed-to-salad magic happens. The indoor garden climate is carefully controlled with innovative technology designed to regulate the amount of water, light and nutrients needed to optimize the growth and nutritional value of the greens.
Natural Grocers has adopted hydroponic farming practices that prioritize the sustainability and quality of GardenBox greens. Certified Organic seeds are germinated in organic-friendly peat and coconut husk, where roots develop before being transferred to the vertical, space-saving system.
The GardenBox hydroponic process uses significantly less water than outdoor agricultural methods — nutrient-rich water trickles across the roots throughout the growing process and can be adjusted as needed. Living produce is harvested daily, walked from the garden to the produce aisle.
Offering Natural Grocers customers varieties of leafy greens not typically found in other grocery stores is another advantage GardenBox delivers. GardenBox’s Rooted in Fresh quality means the roots remain intact so that they stay fresh and crisp longer and some produce may get even sweeter when roots are kept in water after harvesting.
Natural Grocers seeks to ensure the highest level of transparency and quality with two GardenBox certifications: Where Food Comes From Organic and Clean Hydroponic Produce established by the Alliance for Sustainable Hydroponics. Natural Grocers will be participating in scientific research studies on nutrient density and energy use as part of the Clean Hydroponic Produce Standards certification.
“Natural Grocers has been committed to selling fresh, 100 percent organic produce from day one as a way for us to support our communities and our planet,” said Co-President Kemper Isely. “This next step—of sustainably growing organic and clean hydroponic produce ourselves, on site, and harvested fresh for our store every morning—truly speaks to that commitment and to who we are as a company. We can’t wait for our hometown community to taste produce that was grown literally right outside our store.”
Get To Know GardenBox:
- Certified Organic: Only USDA Certified Organic seeds are planted in organic-friendly peat and coconut husk, which do not contain any synthetic fertilizers or synthetic pesticide residues and are naturally non-GMO to support the health of the planet. All varieties grown in the GardenBox are certified organic by Where Food Comes From Organic;
- Efficiency: Up to 4,000 heads of leafy greens can be grown every month—in only 320 square feet;
- Sustainability: GardenBox’s hydroponic process uses significantly less water than outdoor agricultural methods;
- Nutrient Density: Throughout the growing process, nutrient-rich water trickles across the roots to deliver organic-friendly, essential plant nutrients for growth and a rich mix of trace elements such as magnesium, cobalt and molybdenum and many chelated micronutrients, such as copper, manganese, zinc and iron;
- Quality Control: Nutrients are adjusted continually to maximize the nutrient density of GardenBox’s leafy greens;
- Innovation: Full-spectrum LED lights mimic optimum sunlight exposure to grow greens all year long; and
- Hyperlocal: Transportation distance is measured in steps, not miles—82 steps to be exact.