CALEDONIA, Mi. — While Michigan is known for its diverse agriculture, growing seasons here are short. But there's a Caledonia farm that solved the problem of weather, bugs, water, land and more in 2018. Revolution Farms has quadrupled their output in just the last 8 months. President Trent Hartwig says they are the largest producer of lettuce in the state of Michigan. That’s despite having just three acres of actual plants. He shared many of the benefits of growing like this. "Better, nutritious lettuce, less miles to the grocery store and less water and less land use in general when compared to conventional soil farming.”
It all started in their first greenhouse in 2018, growing full heads of lettuce. A recent expansion brought phase two, and a newer, more automated technique. Head Grower Tam Serage showed us how they prefill their troughs with a peat and wood fiber mix, then they are automatically moved along to the seeding area. That’s where 110-130 seeds are distributed in each trough or gutter. He says, "We'll see 750-1000 of these troughs a day, so in this system we're growing six different varieties of lettuce. The computer takes the trough, and it gets distributed into one of 10 lines. Each line has over 1700 of these troughs in there it's a lot of lettuce.”
A lot of lettuce is right! They're putting out more than 1.5 million pounds every year. That means their reach continues to expand. They've partnered with SpartanNash and now Meijer shoppers will see lots of new options on their shelves as well. Hartwig says, "we have 7 new products that are going into Meijer stores. We'll be providing lettuce into all of the Meijer private label salad kits which is very exciting for us to upgrade those kits with better local, more nutritious greens and so we now have a footprint across 8-10 states in the Midwest.”
As and as Serage keeps a close eye on everything sprouting inside, Hartwig is attending to the growth in other areas. "We are in the planning phases for more expansion more greenhouses, more product and more people in the community that have jobs here in west Michigan.” Revolution Farms uses all non-GMO seeds, natural remedies to handle pests, and the products go from harvest to store shelves in 1-2 days. The greenhouses automatically adjust temperature, wind, shade, humidity and carbon dioxide.
For more information on what they do, you can head to https://www.revolutionfarms.com/.