I’m inside a shipping container located in a residential neighborhood. On both sides of the aisle, rows and rows of tender plants—heads of lettuce, herbs and microgreens—grow in trays. They bask under energy-efficient LED lights, bathing everything in a red-tinged glow. A thin film of water flows past the plants’ roots, providing nutrients, while fans circulate the air. Jason Levens, 36, the founder of Aldon’s Leafy Greens, spends a lot of time in this engineered environment, tending his hydroponically grown charges, but he loves the work. “Every single plant in here I’ve seeded,” he says.
When I Google “hydroponics,” I discover it comes from the Greek words for water and work—water working. It is a way to grow plants in water, without soil.