Texas Farm Goes Vertical


In Red Rock, Texas (pop. 2.818), near Austin, techie-turned farmer Larry Johnson’s farm is turning out bushels of fruit and vegetables in an area no larger than a tool shed. He is the founder of the EZGro Garden company. Rather than seeking a pastoral setting with fertile soil, Johnson found a few acres and designed a farm that looks more like a circuit board. Strawberries grow up, not out, in the high-density layout. “We manufacture vertical garden systems,” Johnson says. “The system is designed to grow 700 plants in 15 towers in a footprint two feet wide by 18 feet long.”  The closed irrigation system uses a nutrient-rich water solution that comes in through the top. Water is pumped from the floor level and comes up inside the towers, and then cascades back down through the pots, bringing nu- trients back to the tank. It takes five gallons of water about a minute to go from the top pot to the bottom, so nutrients flow equally through each pot.
Johnson consulted with vegetable specialist Dr. Joe Masabni, of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, to evaluate the EZGro Garden system. “The research we will do, in addition to proving that the system works, will also aim to show growers that a closed system is safe and does work,” Masabni says. “The common misconception is that if one plant is sick, all the rest would get sick, because the disease will move in the water and in- fect everything else. We want to prove that that doesn’t happen..”tg2
Because the strawberry is a high-value cash crop, they want to know if they can grow the plants more densely than might be expected. “Instead of putting four plants in a pot, let’s put eight plants, for example, and compare that to produc- tion from a pot with only one plant,” says Masabni. He notes that he sees that the
towers of plants are not showing signs of foliage stress, plant stunting or smaller fruit, but expects his research to take two years.

For more information, visit ezgrogarden.com.

Masterworks of Native American Art

Masterworks of Native American ArtCurrently touring the country, Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection, will be on display at the Amon Carter Museum of Art, in Fort Worth, through September 13. Drawn from the celebrated holdings of Charles and Valerie Diker, this exhi- bition features 120 masterworks representing tribes across the North American continent.

The exhibition showcases recent acquisitions never be- fore seen by the public, and is the first traveling exhibition curated from this exceptional collection. Selections from
the collection have been presented previously at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Location: 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd. For more information, call 817-738-1933 or visit CarterMuseum.org.

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

texas aandm

Dinner Tonight!, a taste of fast and fresh healthy cooking demonstrations from the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., September 29, at the Collin College Conference Center Preston Ridge Campus to raise money for student scholarships.
Doors open at 5:45 p.m., with raffles, door prizes, free cookbooks and gift bags.
Chef Darren McGrady will share his royal palatial experi- ences with free samples of treats from the kitchen.

Cost is $20 before Sep. 1/$25 after. Location: 9700 Wade Blvd., Frisco. To register beginning Aug. 3, call 877-847- 9355 or visit TexasHealth.org/dinner-tonight. For more information, email cbrazeal@ag.tamu.edu or visit DinnerTonight.tamu.edu. See ad, page 38.

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