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Indoor, vertical farming becoming more of a reality, UF researchers find

“That just completely rocked my world,” said Michelle Reed of Bonita Springs.

After doctors diagnosed her with systemic lupus in 2013, she changed her eating habits.

“I learned that what I put in my body, what I put on my body made a huge difference,” she said.

That’s where Rob Epple and Florida MicroGreens comes in.

“All of a sudden folks in the community have access to fresh herbs and veggies in microgreen form or baby green form that they didn’t have before,” Epple said.

Rob Epple, Co-owner of Florida MicroGreens (WINK News)

These microgreens or baby greens can be grown in trays either horizontally or in a vertical tower. From there, you’ll just need light, water and something to grow the seeds in, like hemp.

“We’ve had a boom in sales in terms of seed and some of the materials we use for planting,” Epple said.

While his business is doing well from individual sales, selling to restaurants has been a different story lately.

“There wasn’t enough demand, you know, to keep the operations going,” he said.

Despite the ups and downs, UF researchers believe indoor vertical farming is becoming more of a reality.

“Indoor farming definitely has a lot of potentials, especially for dealing with, kind of in the face of situations like COVID-19 or the climate-related disasters,” said Dr. Jiangxiao Qiu, assistant professor at UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center.

Whether you’re coping with personal illness or forces beyond our control, ” I really enjoy it and it’s extremely rewarding,” Reed said.

While Florida MicroGreens hasn’t been able to offer its summer camp or in-person sessions, they live stream online tutorials for anyone looking to get started.

If you’re interested in checking on those tutorials, you can find them here.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Briana Harvath
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