Hydroponics brings fresh produce to the porches of North Fulton residents
Even as the farmers markets close for the season, North Fulton residents seeking healthier, tastier, locally-grown produce can still get lucky in the lettuce department. Thanks to hydroponics and the dedication of two people who are passionate about sustainable growing, this vital ingredient for salads, sandwiches and more can be had all year and even delivered to your door, or actually your porch.
Jeff Adams, founder and co-owner of Circle A Farms was a couple of months into his first harvest when he met Cheryl Howlin, who had a B.S. in dietetics and nutrition coupled with years of experience in sales. While Adams had grown up on a farm and achieved success in the construction industry, which allowed him to build and maintain the Circle A greenhouse, the complement of Howlin’s business development know-how helped transition the farm into a thriving local business. Lettuces from Circle A Farms can now be found at restaurants from Roswell to Alpharetta in addition to the farmers markets and a few small grocers.
More importantly for the fall and winter seasons, Circle A Farms offers the Farm-to-Porch program that delivers fresh lettuce to North Fulton residents. It’s simple. Customers order and pay online, and based on zip code, Circle A delivers to each customer’s personal porch cooler. There is no obligation to agree to an ongoing order, but Howlin has found that many customers do.
“People love it,” she said. “Some people even do standing orders, which means they get the same delivery each week. Literally, your lettuce is at the most, 12 hours old.”
What makes the Circle A Farms lettuce delicious enough to create such a dedicated client base is its growing process, which is hydroponic. Both a wave of the future and a system that has been popular on the West Coast since the 1970s, hydroponic agriculture, which refers to growing in water, offers significant benefits. This soilless method eliminates the need for herbicides and pesticides, so produce is clean. Even better, the water used by Circle A Farms contains just the right recipe of nutrients to grow great lettuce.
“All of the nutrients that are in our water are derived from natural sources,” said Howlin. “It’s all a natural procedure. [Our lettuce] not only tastes a whole lot better, it’s super, super healthy for you.” The nutrients in the water provide better flavor, and they help the lettuce stay fresh longer, too. Interestingly, despite its name, hydroponic agriculture uses a third of the amount of water traditional agriculture does, so it is also more sustainable.
Circle A Farms has kept the focus on lettuce because it’s a type of produce that most people eat, however, there is plenty of variety. Offerings include spring mix, which is the most popular, as well as baby kale, Bibb, romaine, arugula and Tropicana. Additionally, basil and microgreens are available.
Hosting a Salad Bar Party is a fun way to sample Circle A Farms lettuce with family, friends or coworkers. Circle A delivers Kale & Quinoa and Romain BLT salads to a small gathering and introduces the benefits of hydroponics and presents the Farm-to-Porch program. It’s delicious and hard to resist.
“Kids absolutely love our lettuce,” said Howlin. “Kids are some of our best customers.” That could be the best selling point of all.
Circle A Farms is located at 2895 Dishroom Rd. in Cumming. Lettuce is available onsite and via the Farm-to-Porch program throughout the year. CircleALettuce.com