IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Relief and success may, at times, be found in identifying opportunities that are presented by strife.
As California remains in the midst of a tremendous drought, an Orange County farmer believes he may have discovered the farming method of the future after his crops began thriving while using much less water than usual.
Farmer Erik Cutter says it may be possible to revolutionize the way food is grown through a water and land-conscious method of farming called hydroponic farming.
Through hydroponic farming, the farm is divided into two parts.
The first part uses hydroponics, which translates to a way of growing plants without the use of soil. The second part uses “organic soxx”, which are long tubes of recycled sock material that combine with a drip irrigation system, in order to save water.
“This farm here came out of the idea that twenty-first century farmland might be cement, man-made surfaces,” Cutter said. “Do you see the weed mat? That mimics asphalt. This farm could be built on any parking lot or a school yard, or any empty space that nobody is using. So (crops) grow faster, it grows about three times more plants, and (uses) 50 percent less fertilizer.”
Cutter calls hydroponic farming an “urban” solution, as opposed to a global solution.
The objective for Erik Cutter is to work with chefs to introduce his food into local restaurants, with the eventual goal of turning his farm into a supermarket for residents in the area.
“When people come in here, for example, to the Farmer’s Market on Sunday, they come walking over and they say ‘what is this’, and I say this is a farm, and they’re fascinated with it,” Cutter said. “We start telling them what’s in the food, how they can grow this in their own backyard, and all of a sudden, we’ve got families piling in here.”
In the meantime, Cutter, and other farmers like him, who have suffered an overwhelmingly burdening share of one of the worst droughts in California’s recorded history, will be optimistic that some form of relief is in the near future — even if it doesn’t fall from the clouds.
“The idea that we can take and re-purpose land and grow food on it is huge. It could be the paradigm shift in agriculture that we’re looking for.”