BEND, Ore. - Every good crop needs to stay hydrated, but at Bend's Volcano Veggies, traditional farming ends with the H2O.
"The water flows directly over the roots," owner Shannon Sbarra said Wednesdasy, talking about more than 1,500 plants that she and her husband grow in a small space off Second Street.
"We have an indoor aquaponic farm, we grow salad greens and basil," Sbarra said.
The plants grow without soil and aren't anchored to any field. Instead, vertical plastic piping holds the plants hanging in neat columns.
There's also one crucial helper making it all work.
"We are raising tilapia fish," Sbarra said. "The fish waste actually gets pumped up, and that's what provides the plants with nutrition, and then the plants suck up the nutrients out of the water, and that actually cleans the water for the fish."
It's a concept hundreds of years old, making a splash again in a time Sbarra said couldn't be more relevant.
"This is the future of farming," Sbarra said. "It's ultra-sustainable. It uses 98 percent less water than traditional farming."
Sbarra said her plants will produce about six times the amount of produce as a traditional farm of the same size.
And any green thumb knows growing on the High Desert has its challenges.
"In the winter, you go to the grocery store and vegetables are coming from Mexico and Central America," Sbarra said. "We wanted to produce fresh vegetables all year long in Bend."
While the six-month-old business mostly delivers to a few dozen customers, the lettuce mix was recently picked up by Newport Market and is also found in a handful of area restaurants.
"This is as local as it gets," Sharra said. "The vegetables are as fresh as they get, which means they are more nutritious."
For more information on the produce you can visit volcanoveggies.com.
You can also find the vegetables at the ‘Meet the Maker' event at Whole Foods Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.