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HI AJ, sure! We have large totes that we have insulated the sides with 1/2" Dow blue board. In the bottom is a piece of 2" Dow blue board with about 80 holes to fit 2" net pots. (the plants are packed in quite tightly) We fill the tote with about 2" of water and have a large 6" medium pore airstone in the bottom underneath the foam raft. We than supply air via a small aquarium air pump and either run it off an inverter in our vehicle if near by, from power if available and last resort is a small lawn mower battery with a DC inverter to power the air pump. Aeration is definitely a necessary component to keep the plants looking nice and healthy with so many in such a small container. We then pull the plant, cut off the roots and net pot and bag up the produce. For lettuces, we dunk them right then in ice water to help them crisp up for the ride home and our customers love it!
TC, we transport in the back of a truck, or a station wagon set up for it (for small orders). The towers slide in, slide out, and fit right into the display. So far, no problems at all. We are testing everything at a small natural foods store, so we replace towers every MWF. Logistically it's pretty simple.
Green Acre, I've looked at bare-root plants a great deal and come to the conclusion that while the primary root systems look good on them, the damage done to the primary root area (root hairs and small peripheral roots) was pretty extensive, just not visible (unless you have a microscope). I think the trick is to minimize the handling damage (like TC said). This is the benefit of the towers- the roots remain completely untouched, so we don't need refrigeration or anything to keep the produce live for up to 2 weeks at market (it actually stays live for much longer, but doesn't look so great after this time period.). This keeps our redworms live, microbes live, etc. So we get it back to the greenhouse and don't have to start from scratch. Plus, people seem to like the action of cutting their own produce. . . Anyway, I think you could do something similar, but the trick will be to keep the root damage to a minimum, which is hard with bare-root anything, especially since you can't see most of the damage being done. . . But I"m sure you know all this. Sorry, I"m a verbal processer.
Michelle, thanks for the encouragement. It's running great so far. I'm used to something bad happening to prototypes, but so far, no problems. (fingers crossed :) )
AJ, we can do sales to restaurants using simplified displays consisting of a basin, pump and support arm. It sets in the corner and chefs just cut off of it as they go (which eliminates the high labor req. associated with herbs especially). 60, 30 second breaks to cut some basil off for a recipe doesn't seem like much to a professional chef, but that's actually 30 min. of labor. It's huge for us! The towers last forever this way too. Plants are live so there isn't any spoilage. We also just cut stuff off of towers for restaurants that want produce but don't have a small display (we haven't started our first production run yet). Or, restarants can just throw the tower in thier walk in cooler- they last up to 2 weeks in a cooler with no irrigation, with no ill effects. It stays incredibly fresh so long as the plants aren't damaged.
Hi Nate,Green Acres,
Just plain ingenious, great out of the box thinking, you guys!