For the first time in over a year, I was able to visit one of our farmer partners.  As it turns out, Craig Tucker and I shared similar paths that led to our visit at Tucker Farms in Rome, Georgia.  We grew up 30 min apart in NW Georgia and went on to pursue degrees in Construction Management at Metro Atlanta schools.  We both graduated in 2007 just as the construction industry collapsed, steering us away from that industry and eventually to the world of local food.  Food is always personal (we do eat it after all) but talking about it near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains made it that much more nostalgic!

Field hands Lilly and Brandon harvesting baby kale

Tucker Farms is owned and operated by Craig Tucker and his wife, Kikki.  Located on the Oostanaula River in Rome, Georgia, they built their first hoop house in 2010 and their hydroponic greenhouse in 2012.  Before the pandemic they sold almost exclusively to restaurants so they had to pivot quickly in March of 2020.  At that same time, Fresh Harvest was experiencing significant growth so the partnership was perfect timing.  Their greens have filled Fresh Harvest baskets ever since and we’ve begun crop planning for the future.

Farmer Craig in the hydroponic greenhouse

Two things we love about Tucker Farms is their consistency and sustainable farming practices.  Their use of hoop houses and a hydroponic greenhouse enable them to grow greens year round, which benefits Fresh Harvest customers, and provides steady, dependable work for their greenhouse team.  Hydroponic growing also reduces water usage up to ten times less than field grown greens.

Hydroponic tank system

Hydroponic growing is the method of growing plants without soil where water becomes the medium that delivers the required nutrients to the plant roots.  The water continuously circulates using a tank and a nutrient pump and the plants sit in a grow tray (below) so only the roots are exposed to the circulated water.  Tucker grows several varieties but on average they take one month from seed to harvest.

Greenhouse hand Brittani filling the grow tray

Thankfully, Tucker farms has emerged from the challenges of 2020 stronger than ever.  Having firmly established wholesale deliveries they are currently revamping their sales to some of our favorite restaurants like Poor Hendrix and Little Bear.  So the same greens that fill your Fresh Harvest baskets each week are on the menus of some of Atlanta’s best restaurants.  Thank you for keeping this local food economy turning!