If you take a trip to the Farmers Market one Saturday you can expect to see a wide variety of home grown produce, but one farm in the area is a bit different.
At first glance these plants may just look like a typical part of a backyard garden, but the secret lies in here. These are the greenhouses of The Farm at Red Hill, a family run farm just minutes from Downtown Charlottesville. The truly unique thing about these plants is that they aren't grown in soil but in coconut fiber.
The owner of the farm, Richard Harrison says, "The coconut fiber is all coming out of Indonesia and India. It's a byproduct of the coconut industry when they take the outside husk off"
This form of growing is called hydroponics. The fibers provide no nutrients to the plant so everything the plant needs is provided through a continuous nutrient solution.
"Each type of plant that we grow has a different mineral makeup because the science knows how much copper, zinc, phosphate, what they need."
These hydroponic greenhouses allow this family to grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs year round and as you can imagine this can be very time consuming, but family is key.
Richard says that "all of my family members work down here and we are basically in here seven days a week."
Now when you go to the market you might not be able to see the difference between this produce and the usual but freshness is most important.
"We feel the major difference is that they actually are vine ripe, we pick them when they are bright red. Let them go nice and ripe and you let them go soft naturally you have nice strong flavor."
While on the farm I got to try a few items and the flavors really were truly remarkable. You can find the produce from The Farm at Red Hill served in several local restaurants and at the local Farmers Markets.