Harvesting Lettuce and Microgreens in the Concrete Jungle of Kaka‘ako
Founded by Kerry Kakazu, Metrogrow Hawai‘i produces their crops in a dedicated manner, prioritizing self-sufficiency, food safety, fast growing, convenience, and chemical free produce. Based in the hustle and bustle of Kaka‘ako, there isn’t much land to farm on. Kakazu embraced this and purposefully built his farm indoors where he can control the temperature, lighting, and allow for a pesticide free environment. Using LEDs, he can generate around-the-clock “sunshine” for photosynthesizing. From there, he incorporates vertical farming, hydroponics, and aeroponics to achieve a flourishing indoor farm setting. “We’re the largest indoor/hydroponic farm and we want to show people that this is a very innovative way of technology,” explained Kakazu.
Vertical farming means that Kakazu can grow more in less space and it’s all made possible due to his hydroponic and aeroponic grow methods. These methods not only lead to a cleaner and longer lasting product, but also lower the cost and help avoid the pitfalls of traditional farming.
Without the need for soil, there is no impact on the land or introduction of contamination. The use of LEDs means that solar energy can be harvested to provide electricity and make the illumination sustainable. Kakazu uses solar panels on the roof of the building to produce the Farm’s energy and the low amount of electricity that LEDs use means that this farm can be completely sustained by the panels.
Similarly, the use of hydroponics and aeroponics paired with a water catchment system means that you can reuse the water many times over, greatly reducing the amount of water required and waste created from the farm. While Kakazu acknowledges that not all crops can be grown this way, he seeks to grow the ones that can. “I believe that there will be a need for urban, indoor farming to supplement traditional growing,” Kakazu shared.
“If renewable-energy sources can be utilized, it can be a practical adjunct to more traditional farming. It will also conserve water, reduce pesticide usage, pollute less, and prevent soil degradation. It can only help better Hawai‘i’s food production self-sufficiency.”
Most known for their lettuces and microgreens, Metrogrow Hawai‘i produces many different types and species for wholesale and individual consumption. “We have a particular variety of lettuce called Salanova which has a smaller head, but the leaves are really nice for salads. We also do a lot of microgreens for chefs, which are used as garnishes,” detailed Kakazu. They also grow an exclusive Metrogrow Hawai‘i vegetable.
Only found at their farm, Glacier Greens are a salty, crunchy and succulent plant that is unlike anything else. Glittering like a glacier, it is perfect for sushi dishes, but is also amazing to try by itself. A list of produce currently available can be found at www.metrogrowhawaii.com.
Since the farm is able to produce greens in a matter of weeks, it has been a convenient opportunity for many of the local businesses to rely on. During the pandemic, Kakazu was able to take a step back and focus more on the farm’s online sales as well as take part in local farmers markets. “We were probably like 90% restaurant sales so obviously that had a giant impact because it all disappeared,” Kakazu disclosed. “That is what prompted us to start looking at the farmers markets and we beefed up our website and moved into online sales which definitely helped us.”
Future plans for Metrogrow Hawai‘i include expanding into different types of produce. “We also have quite a bit of interest from people who visit saying, can you grow more commodity food products for general consumption,” revealed Kakazu. Excited for the future, there is only more to come from this small farm.
Blending agriculture and technology, Metrogrow Hawai‘i’s biodiversity and ability to successfully produce self-sustaining greens as The State’s first commercial indoor vertical farm is a powerful measure to Kakazu’s passion for Urban Farming and providing clean healthy produce to the local community.
812 Kawaiahao Street, Honolulu, HI, United States, Hawaii
@MetroGrow Hawaii on Facebook
@metrogrowhawaii on Instagram
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