Teaching people to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables, and selling them the supplies to do grow them, is the basis for a new downtown business.
Ohio Hydroponics, 59 E. Market St., is to open Monday, with a grand opening set for June 24. Store personnel will be explaining growing systems such as hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, soil-based systems and organics.
"We basically are trying to get people to take the seasons out of their growing," said CEO Jeremy Gross. "We want them to grow healthy vegetables and fruits for their families instead of going to Walmart to buy them."
PHOTO BY ROB LEDWEDGE
Brandon Gross stocks shelves at Ohio Hydroponics.
Gross operates the business with owners Ryan Feasel and Brandon Gross.
"If you can grow your own and feed your family and be sustainable for the next to nothing, I think that's better for everybody," Gross said.
Ohio Hydroponics was founded in last fall on 2 1/2 acres near Bloomville by converting an outbuilding into a hydroponic greenhouse optimized for year-round cultivation. The team also planted two gardens.
Now, the business is expanding into a retail store to provide information and products to teach its growing methods to the public.
"We sell indoor and outdoor garden supplies, hydroponics and soil organics," Gross said. "We want to teach children how to start using hydroponics. That
way we have a generation in this community who know how to grow their own food."
While traditional gardening works well, the team wants people to understand there are methods of gardening year round.
"We definitely want to teach sustainability and perpetual harvest and container growing fruits and vegetables," Gross said.
"There's a lot of people out there who already deal with (traditional) gardening," Feasel said. "This is just an option."
The option takes up less space in most cases.
"A 5-acre lot planted traditionally can yield the same as a 1-acre lot producing vertically," Feasel said.
Growing systems provide a lot of flexibility, he said.
Gross said growing systems can be set up in houses, apartments or college dorm rooms.
"College kids are health aware," he said. "They're interested in growing vegetables but they don't have a big area for gardening.
"We can set up something in whatever area they have," he said, "whether it's a kitchen counter or a windowsill, wherever they want.
"If you can grow it, it can be grown in hydroponics indoor or outdoor," he said. "If you wanted to grow a banana tree, I guess you could, but who has room for that."
Hydroponics is not a new process, Gross said. The Chinese have been using it to grow rice for 3,000 years.
"They started tapping into the actual science in the '50s," Feasel said. "There are factories that grow lettuce in hydroponics."
Gross said the nearest stores with similar supplies can be found in Marion, Toledo, Columbus and other larger cities.
The team chose Tiffin because many college students are interested in the topic and can benefit from having a local source of supplies, Gross said.
But Feasel said Tiffin has plenty of traffic on the street and a people already are familiar with gardening.
"And we're from Bloomville," Gross said. "We want to be in areas where we can make the most difference."
In the future, the store also will provide classes on topics such as organics and health, growing systems, maintenance, custom-built systems, vertical systems and faster production through cloning of flowering plants.
Ohio Hydroponics has been the name of the online store associated with Green Mart LLC, formerly based on US 224 between Tiffin and Findlay. When Green Mart merged with the Bloomville greenhouse, Feasel said they decided to use the Ohio Hydroponics name and open a store in Tiffin.
"Higher traffic, more visual," Feasel said. "It's a better decision for the business."
The company plans to continue growing produce at the Bloomville greenhouse and farm.
"Eventually, we plan to have a year-round farmers market at the store location," Feasel said. "But that's eventually."
Store personnel plan to be involved in the community and are scheduled to participate as a vendor in the Tiffin Music & Art Festival June 20-22.
"We'd like to help out the community as much as possible," Gross said. "We want to invite the mayor down here so we can teach him how to do it."
Beginning Monday, store hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.