Des Moines Hydroponic Farm

des moines hydroponic farm

Hydroponic farm in Des Moines growing crops in a unique way

“It is a purpose-driven project that uses cutting-edge tech to feed the folks that need it most,” said hydroponic farmer Aaron Thormodsen.

Des Moines Hydroponic Farm | Connor O’Neal |

DES MOINES, Iowa — WesleyLife Meals on Wheels in Des Moines opened a futuristic, indoor, hydroponic farm in December, changing the way crops can be grown.

Inside the 3,000 square-foot farm on University Avenue, hydroponic farmer Aaron Thormodsen works solo most days during the week, with some help from volunteers, seeding, transplanting, harvesting and cleaning three rows of lettuce varieties.

Hydroponic farming at the Des Moines indoor farm involves bright lights shining on the crops for around 18 hours per day; crop growth without soil (they use rockwool); and reliance on water nutrients after filtering out elements like chlorine and sodium.

The farm follows WesleyLife’s mission to fight food insecurity in central Iowa. They are taking the harvested produce and turning them into salads to distribute to Iowans in Dallas County and Polk County who may not have access to a grocery store or to the freshest produce.

“It’s the reason why I’m in Iowa, it’s the reason why I like coming into work,” Thormodsen said. “It is a purpose-driven project that uses cutting-edge tech to feed the folks that need it most. I mean there’s nothing better than that, truly.”

At this hydroponic facility, the nonprofit organization yields six different lettuce varieties in only three weeks, about half the time it takes to do so at an outdoor farm.

WesleyLife director of health and well-being Shannon Draayer told Local 5 News it takes about a day to a couple days for the crops to make it to the table for those in need.

During the two months the farm has been operational, Thormodsen harvested more than 500 pounds of lettuce, which equals about 8,000 salads to be given in part of WesleyLife’s Meals on Wheels program. As a year-whole, Thormodsen wants to be able to produce 1T of crops per year.

He also mentioned they have nearly a dozen unused rows to grow more crops, but they don’t have the resources to grow more lettuce, or other crops, unless they received more volunteer help. To learn how you can volunteer at WesleyLife, you can visit their website here.

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