The Saba Hydroponic Farm Project, managed by Gezondheid Farms in collaboration with the public entity Saba, has entered the final phase of construction. The concrete slabs of the small and large greenhouses have been poured and the road to both greenhouses is ready.
With the construction of the two greenhouses being completed by mid-2023, or possibly earlier, operations toward crop production and sales are scheduled to start this spring. Currently, the farm has completed growing trials on lettuce, leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, okra, eggplant, watermelons, cantaloupes, and honey dew melons.
The farm is now concentrating on strawberry plants. The farm’s location at Rendez-Vous on the higher part of the flanks of Mount Scenery allows for cooler temperatures and higher humidity required to grow strawberries. With 50 mother roots purchased in early October, the farm has developed a cloning process to birth off 700 baby strawberry plants to add to the inventory, ready for transplant to outdoors when the equipment has been installed and is ready for use, explained Jim Garza of Gezondheid Farms.
Once the construction of one of the two greenhouse structures has been completed, the strawberry seedlings and the 20 plus other crop variety seedlings will be placed outdoors, germinated in the farm’s tissue culture processing cabinet in the current showroom facility.
The Saba Hydroponic Farm Project has economic, environmental, and social impact benefits for the community, both during construction and while in operation. From an economic point of view, the project provides two timelines that offer benefits to the community. The project supports 6 plus construction jobs until it is fully built. The project also makes use of construction materials bought from local businesses. While in full operation, the farm will offer 8 to 12 permanent jobs while supplying the community with 20 plus different varieties of produce, ranging from tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, eggplant, bell peppers, watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, strawberries, blueberries and mushrooms when the project is fully built out. The produce from the farm has a longer shelf-life and more nutrients than imported produce.
From an environmental perspective, the project will promote zero carbon footprint balancing while utilizing the sun for photosynthesis reactions, natural air flows, and bees for pollinating when needed. The farm will use all-electric, energy-efficient delivery vehicles. From a social perspective, the project will offer training possibilities equally for men and women as well as promote a gender inequality social impact initiative to encourage the development of female technician farmers. Participants of the junior farmer program will develop skills in science, technology and engineering. The farm wants to collaborate with local authorities and organizations to work on reduced produce prices for Saba people living below the poverty line.
The Saba Hydroponic Farm organizes an open house event every third Saturday of the month. The next open house is on January 21st. “We want to have a positive impact on helping Saba become a healthier place to live. Come visit our farm so you can get a first-hand look at the positive progress,” said Garza.