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From Farm to Table – A Journey Through our Growing Process: Part 2

It is not just luck that lēf greens are so delicious. The fresh flavor that provides a healthy experience is locally grown, but there is so much that goes into a single package of our greens. In order to achieve that burst of flavor, our greens go through a rigorous process that includes expert growing and harvesting steps. 

Growing 

After our greens have been seeded and germinated, they enter the growing stage of their journey, which is where they will spend most of their time. The upper level of our greenhouse is where a freshly germinated seedling arrives and moves along a network of fingers that pull the growing channels from one end of the greenhouse to the other. From a tiny seedling to a perfect height for harvesting, will take about two weeks of growing. From that point, the seedlings are ready to be moved from the growing channels and onto a rubber conveyor for harvesting. This isn’t a process that occurs only a few times a year or month, this is seven days of the week, 365 days a year of growing and harvesting baby greens with the mission of getting them on your plate within 24 hours of harvest. 

Irrigation 

Just like when you grow plants in your own backyard, irrigation, or simply watering is the key to success. Our state-of-the-art hydroponic system works with drip emitters delivering a precise amount of water at the base of each growing channel. Gravity takes over from there, as water flows through the roots of the young greens to foster their growth. Since we are providing water right to the roots, we are staying green ourselves. Our system reduces the water needed vs overhead methods that apply water to the ground first and then to roots. On top of that, we collect any water the plants do not use, to be reused over again. 

Our water and nutrient management are vital to the process. We have reduced our water consumption and nutrient loss up to 90% with our system replacing only the water and nutrients used by the plants. That math equals out to us only using 1/10 of the water and nutrients to produce 66x more baby greens per acre than traditional in-soil production. 

Water Filtration 

To further our water savings, we use a water filtration system to remove large particles. It is comprised of a specialized sand to keep the water clean from debris. This makes the process of using the water over again that much easier and means even less overall water usage! 

Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation 

Happy greens are at their happiest when they live in the ideal temperature. Just like us, the hot summer months and harsh New England winters are not ideal living conditions, so we need systems to maintain a balance. During the summer, cooling pads help create a perfect temperature for growing in our greenhouse, while in the winter, we utilize high-efficiency natural gas boilers for heat. No matter what time of year, our greenhouses are a comfortable 75°F.  

Stale and stagnant air is no good for the greens either, which is why air movement is important for temperature regulation. Heat tends to rise, so we vent through the center of the greenhouse, and that allows us to draw filtered air through the sides of the facility while the hot air is pushed out the top. This process keeps the greenhouse evenly ventilated no matter what month it is. 

Carbon Dioxide 

Unlike us as people, carbon dioxide is a requirement for plant growth. During the winter, while we are preserving as much as heat as possible, our greenhouse ventilates less frequently. Due to this, the CO2 levels drop over time resulting in lower yields. However, in the winter, we take advantage of our 97% efficient natural gas boilers for heat. With a specialized machine, we can collect CO2 emissions and disperse them in the greenhouse right where the plants need them. Like the water directly to our roots, we use a system that puts the CO2 right under the growing area resulting in easy access for the plants. By capturing and reusing our own emissions, we reduce our carbon footprint, while creating a perfect growing environment.  

Supplemental Lighting 

The winter months will always be the trickiest when it comes to heat and sunlight. Natural sunlight is amazing for plant growth and most months our greenhouse allows us to capture huge amounts of heat and 80% of our light from the sun. But the winter calls for some help, with supplemental lighting. This lighting allows us to provide just the right amount of light for healthy plants. The advanced lighting technology saves energy and produces more light for our greens, so when you taste them, you will not be able to remember what time of the year it is! 

 Harvesting 

Once the growing stage has lasted two weeks, it is time for harvest. At this point, the baby greens move on from growing channels and growing lines to a conveyor belt right into our state-of-the-art cooler. The greens are harvested at a chilly 35°F that helps to remove heat, lock in fresh taste, increase post-harvest performance, extend shelf life, and most importantly, preserve the delicious flavor. 

With the greens in the cooler, they can be sent through our hands-free harvesting machine. The machine uses a double-blade system to cut the product at the perfect height. After the cut, the greens are gently moved from one conveyor to the next until the mixing begins. This is where the unique blending of all our mixes begins to take shape. Each batch has a specific amount of waiting time before dropping to create a delicate and unique layer of greens, which means each bag you open has a precise blend inside.  

The final stage of our harvesting process sees our greens move up a conveyor to a scale for weighing and portioning for each bag. You will not see terms like “washed and cleaned” or “triple-washed” on our bags like you might on others. That is because our baby greens are protected from field contaminants such as dirt, insects, manures, or other harmful pesticides. Once the harvesting is finished it’s on to packaging and one step closer to you! 

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