Joplin, Lebanon, and Springfield area Price Cutter stores are now offering Butter, Green Leaf, Red Leaf and Romaine lettuce from the local Mareth family farm. As their operation ramps up, more stores will feature these products which will help to ensure continued business for this local farm family and a year-round supply of delicious, locally-grown produce for our customers.
Locally grown produce in the winter? Absolutely! Price Cutter was thrilled to learn the Mareth family farm, located in nearby Mt. Vernon, MO, was starting up a hydroponic greenhouse. Our produce buyer visited their operation late last year and agreed to purchase as much fresh produce as they could supply. Given how gorgeous this lettuce looks, who could blame him. And it tastes just as good as it looks!
Farming is in the Mareths' blood. John and Janet's children represent third generation farmers on their dad's side and fifth generation on their mother's. Everyone loves living in the country.
What does hydroponically grown mean? Hydroponics is simply the growing of plants in a water and fertilizer solution. It isn't new. Researchers were doing work on hydroponics as early as the 1600's. Today it is a widely accepted method of producing certain crops such as tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and peppers. When you consider the environmental cost of constantly shipping produce grown in warmer climates to southwest Missouri during our non-growing season, the green-appeal of local hydroponic greenhouses becomes clear.
Each gorgeous head of lettuce began with a simple seed. All the seeds used are GMO-free. The family sets new seeds weekly to maintain a steady supply of lettuce for Price Cutter.
Once they reach a certain stage, plants are transferred from the "nursery beds" and inserted into square openings within grow channels. There, the soil-less plants, will spend several weeks growing to maturity, their root systems continually fed by a steady current of nutrient-infused water. The water used is continually recycled so it takes about 2 cups of water to grow a single plant, much less than is typically needed in field-grown lettuce.
Each tray holds 200 plants.
With an environment that controls light, humidity, temperature and water, plants grow steadily. Insects and pests are not as prevalent in a greenhouse so crop yields, typically 95% or better, are much higher than traditionally grown field lettuce.
Daughter, Rachel, loads plants in the grow channel where they are continually fed with nutrient-infused water. The family's new hydroponic operation will serve as her FFA project.
Father, John, has made a deal with Rachel. She helps with the day to day running of the operation and in turn receives a percentage of the profits which will go towards college expenses.
Soil free, this pristine lettuce is free from dirt and grit and, once it reaches maturity, is all headed to Price Cutter.
Sold with its roots attached, this lettuce is still living which means it will maintain its just-picked flavor and crispness longer and keep fresher much longer in your refrigerator, minimizing waste.
Price Cutter is proud to support local farmers like the Mareth family
and to bring shoppers fresh, local produce choices.