Vertical farming: Growing veggies at new heights

- On a small patch of land in the middle of Tampa's sprawling metropolis, a 21st Century farm is growing some of the Bay Area's best produce without using pesticides or even soil.

It's called Urban Oasis and it's growing rows of rainbow Swiss chard, Napa cabbage, beets and sweet green peas, among other things. But it's more than what they're growing that sets them apart. It's also how.

If you look around the farm you'll see rows and rows of neatly spaced white towers that hold the plants. The method is called vertical hydroponics.

"Sometimes I have to be careful who I allow out here to harvest because they'll eat all of my product," Owner Cathy Hume told us.

"The pots have holes in the bottoms of them so when we feed and water them from the top all of the nutrients and water drips from the top to the bottom pots," Cathy said.

The tower method also has another advantage.

"We don't have to plant with monoculture in mind," farm manager Trista Brophy explained.

Monoculture means planting one crop at a time during the growing season.

But at Urban Oasis 40, even 50 types of produce can be grown at once. And they use less land.

"We are able to grow on roughly these 3 acres equivalent to about ten acres, so due to the unique nature of the vertical tower system here we're able to utilize this space," said Trista as she walked along the columns of plants.

And Cathy hopes one day her brand of farming will take root and sprout a new generation of urban farmers.

"I think it just gives people an opportunity to grow some of the things that they enjoy most and to experience being outdoors and we're here to help."

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