The Urban Farm Podcast with Greg Peterson
We are continuing the conversation and the evolutionary and truly remarkable tower gardens with our guest today Troy Albright founder and CEO of True Garden in Mesa, Arizona.
He started True Garden, a solar powered greenhouse that spans 5000 square feet, designed to drastically reduce water consumption by 90% and use 90% less space than a conventional farm.
What does a commercial tower garden look like?
The base of the tower is a 20-gallon 2-½ sq foot tank filled with water. The tower rises from that to 9 feet in height. At the top, there is a shower cap that rains water down over the plants. It is a vertical aeroponic system where the roots are saturated with oxygen and the right amount of water.
The greenhouse holds 320 towers. Each tower houses 52 plants, and the greenhouse produces 16,000 living plants per month, and those crops can be turned over 17 times per year.
Troy graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Pharmacy. He created RX Formulations, producing natural bioidentical hormones and focusing on holistic integrative approach to nutrition, health, and wellness.
We moved the conversation to the nutrition of the food being grown here.
What’s in the food?
The plants are provided a Polygrow solution containing Earth mineral ionic A and a Sea Mineral solution B.
These minerals are mined here in the US in their natural state.
This solution has +70 essential minerals and nutrients. Our soils have been overused and overgrown, and we don’t have the ability to replenish our soil fast enough.
You can taste the difference.
Is it organic?
The food here cannot be called organic because organic standards are soil-based (carbon based), so no, it’s not organic because there is no soil.
Troy calls it “Beyond Organic Living Food.” When you “harvest” food from the tower, because it still has its roots, it’s still living!
Did you know: By the time produce gets to market, dark greens have lost almost 100% of nutrition.
At True Garden, we have no pesticides, and we are dealing with 70% fewer microbes (the bad guys).
What makes the greenhouse so unique?
A typical greenhouse is 24 or 31 feet wide. Troy designed this greenhouse to be a show piece with specific dimensions. The greenhouse is 44 feet wide 108 feet long. There are 10 propagated tables. We are growing 4000 seedlings at any giving time, turning 4000 plants (80 towers) at any given time with 6 rows of 80 towers for a total of 320 towers of fresh living produce inside the greenhouse. In addition, Troy has another 150 towers on the patio farm.
True Garden has combined the state-of-the-art technology. The skin of the greenhouse is made of GE Lexan polycarbonate “glass” (10,000 lbs per square inch) that can withstand 100 mph winds. It also diffuses the Arizona sun. It allows us to work in there without sunscreen. The Lexan takes out the harmful rays of the sun. There is a big wet wall with air movement. There is a micro-fogging system and a heat shield. We did not have to use any AC to cool the greenhouse, even in 117 degrees. The floor is also painted white to provide reflection.
Tim Blank designed this greenhouse from the ground up: He started Future Growing. He worked with NASA and developed a similar system in space. Then Disneyworld hired him to do the vertical farming at Epcot Center.
There is only one moving part which is the pump.
Troy has designed tower “microfarms” which is a turnkey farm that can expand, and these are available with 10 towers (440 Plants). He has 2 microfarms ready to go right now!
Right now, there are 30 potential growers. One is a man from China, who speaks Mandarin and owns 100 acres. He wants to put up 800 greenhouses in China to grow tomatoes. He says there are no good tomatoes without chemicals.
The food all over the world is contaminated.
Where does True Garden’s food go?
There is a farm stand on site which is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm and Thursdays from 3pm to 7pm.
From crop to table, the produce has traveled literally 30 yards!!!
No “cides” (pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides).
No farm equipment
The food is also available at Gilbert Farmer’s Market, Old Town Scottsdale Farmer’s Market
Uptown Farmer’s Market.
What was Troy’s failure?
When he first started doing this, he thought more was better – meaning water. He had trays of seedlings. He was instructed to use ¼ inch of water, but he decided that “more was better,” so he filled the tray all the way up.
After a while, he noticed they weren’t germinating. They were rotting!
His takeaway: When you’re growingseeds, do not overwater.
What is Troy’ssuccess and passion?
Troy and True Garden work with cancer centers and provide nutrient-dense nutrition to patients to allow the body to heal. They juice kale, spinach, broccoli, and parsley.
If we give the body what it needs, the body can heal itself. Whole food nutrition can save lives!
His purpose is to provide affordable food that tastes like it used to and is incredibly healthy.