A Hydroponic Farm: Growing Herbs Without Soil

Farming herbs in hydroponic greenhouses makes this business grow almost as fast as its crops.

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    The secret's in the sauce…and in the carefully designed troughs that maximize area and minimize wasteful evaporation. The plants are fed once every 10 minutes
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    Brian Murphy and Loretta Ciotoli-Murphy, surrounded by the herb crops of Goodness Gardens. The soil-less hydroponic process is pesticide-free, highly efficient, and able to yield 36,000 plants a week.
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    On Florida's west coast Pete and Pat Barker manage an eight-acre herb greenhouse in their own back yard—an operation geared toward conserving labor and resources.  

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This story could have several beginnings.

The TV show. Instead of the old The Millionaire series, this one's called The Investor. A wealthy man comes up to you and says, "Want to learn how to run a business?"

The factory tour. Come tour the hydroponic farm, a remarkable plant plant, where 18 workers produce 36,000 herbs a week, then package, refrigerate, and deliver them to grocery store chains over much of the East Coast.

The herbs. Each flavorful, six-inch plant reclines in an attractive, hard-plastic case: a half ounce of basil, mint, or other herb—roots intact.

Past, process, or product. Whichever you start with, your setting will be New York's affluent Westchester County. Here, 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan, lies a country lane shaded by maples instead of high-rises. At its end is Will O Wood estates: a gorgeous mansion, woods, and lake, and tucked around its side, our subject, Goodness Gardens.

The past: 1981. Twenty-year-old Brian Murphy is landscaping part-time at Will O Wood and studying computers in night school. Edward (Eddie) Rosenthal, estate owner and financial investor, asks Murphy if he'd like to build and run two hydroponic greenhouses for a research project.



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