- [Narrator] On this Volunteer Gardener, Marty DeHart is excited for the future of agriculture when she visits Rally House Farms in Downtown Nashville. Within this 320 square foot shipping container is an efficient vertical hydroponic growing system. The amount of leafy greens here, is comparable to three and a half acres of farmland. Amazing. Sheri Gramer learns the factors to consider when determining which variety of bamboo would best suit the desired outcome. And Phillipe Chadwick tours a quarter acre home garden that will remain a delightful respite for generations to come. Let's get going. These leafy greens take just four weeks from seed to harvest. - This is really exciting to me because what you're seeing right now is where farming is going. And it's new, it relies on technology but it's smart technology, a very efficient low energy usage technology, low water usage, this is really exciting. And it's part of a larger mission that really serves people all over Middle Tennessee. This is Emily Rose who runs this wonderful operation. And Emily, tell me what are we looking at here? - So this is the 2017 Leafy Green Shipping Container, Rally Farms manufactures it. - It's a basically the kind that you see on trucks and boats and everything repurposed. - Exactly. - Oh, fantastic. So how big is it? - [Emily Rose] So this is a 40 foot long shipping container, and I have 320 square feet of space inside. - [Marty DeHart] Okay, and what can you produce in that amount of space? - [Emily Rose] So I can produce just shy of three and a half acres of leafy greens. So currently I have a regular several different types of herbs and less. - [Marty Dehart] Three and a half acres. In other words if it were laid out in rows on the ground, it would take three and a half acres to grow what's in there right now? - [Emily Rose] Traditionally you could do three and a half acres of what I have here. So I have 256 plastic towers inside. So they're insulated with kind of like a pool noodle, that kind of material with a piece of fabric. - [Marty Dehart] The form, yeah. - [Emily Rose] And so I just seed everything inside, and whenever it's ready, I just go ahead and transplant, and everything just kinda lines up in my towers. - [Marty Dehart] Wow, what kind of light? Obviously the sun isn't in there, so what do you use? - [Emily Rose] So I have LED strips. So I use approximately 125 Kilowatts a day. - [Marty Dehart] That's not much. - Yeah, for inside. And so my light strips are in a ratio of five red to one blue. - [Marty Dehart] Which is for plants, that's what they like, right? That mix of red and blue wavelength light. - [Emily Rose] Yeah, it's optimal for growing leafy greens. - [Marty Dehart] Leafy greens okay, cool. And tell me, how do you water them? - [Emily Rose] So everything inside is pretty much autonomous. I just have a computer program and we use AgroTech for our technology. So everything is watered on a cycle and of course it's all hydroponic. So we use about 10 gallons of water a day. - [Marty Dehart] That's nothing. - [Emily Rose] Yeah, and it's just kind of a drip situation. - [Marty Dehart] 10 gallons of water for over three acres. - [Emily Rose] Yeah. - [Marty Dehart] It's amazing. - [Emily Rose] So we use 90% less water than traditional farming, so we're super sustainable. And the good part about being in Downtown Nashville is we're hyperlocal, and everybody loves the fact that we're helping mother nature at the same time. - [Marty Dehart] Well, no doubt. And with the nutrient feed in the water supply, and so you fertilize that way, it just drips down those columns and feeds the plant. So how long does it take you to turn over basically, from putting them in the towers to harvesting? - [Emily Rose] So my seedling trays, they hold about 200 seeds per tray. so I seed everything. - [Marty Dehart] So you start for everything from the seed, grow it up to a certain size, plug it in the tower.? - [Emily Rose] Yep. so I can take everything from a seed and then it be ready for a restaurant or for the general public in about four weeks. - [Marty Dehart] Okay. And so what happens with your crops here? What do you do with them? I mean who gets them? - [Emily Rose] So we have a restaurant on 12th Avenue South it's called Josephine. So they sell our lettuce, so we're on the menu there. And then we also sell right here at the farmers' market. - [Marty Dehart] Wonderful, that's awesome. And it's a year round operation, right? I mean, climate controlled? - [Emily Rose] Yeah, so the cool thing about this is we can operate this 52 weeks a year. The only thing is with the fluctuation and outside temperature, I have to recalibrate my system every so often. - [Marty Dehart] Sure, if it's bitter cold outside you'd have to bump the heat or whatever, and if it's blastingly hot, which happens sometimes here in Nashville. But it's such a wonderfully self-contained unit. - [Emily Rose] Yeah, so it's pretty much just city water. And then we go ahead and the pH and everything is adjusted accordingly inside. - [Marty Dehart] And the nutrients according to what you're growing at the time, I would guess. - [Emily Rose] Yeah. - [Marty Dehart] Well that is amazing. What a wonderful thing. Tell me a little bit about vertical farming. I mean, it's popular all over the world, right? I mean here in America, we're just starting it, I know it's happening elsewhere too. - Yeah, so my favorite aspect of doing something like this in agriculture is I wanted to be on the new wave of trends. So with the population exceeding so rapidly, we have to start growing up and set it out. I mean, there's no other way around it. - [Marty Dehart] Yeah, there's only so much land. - Right, especially in places like Nashville where it is so heavily populated. Vertical farming is really taking over. - [Marty Dehart] I know in places like Singapore which is just jam packed with people, that's how they grow a lot of their food. - [Emily Rose] Yeah. - [Marty Dehart] You're doing it very cleanly. Obviously with no bugs in there, you don't have to do a lot of Pesticides issues, correct? What disease issues do you ever have to deal with? - [Emily Rose] Really the only thing we have to deal with would be powdery mildew. - [Marty Dehart] Yeah, from the dampness. - [Emily Rose] Right. So I do spray three times a week, and other than that, we don't use any kind of pesticides or anything. And I'm pretty much the only person in the container, so everything... - [Marty Dehart] There are not a lot of Contaminants going in and out. - [Emily Rose] No. - [Marty Dehart] Yeah, and powdery mildew you can spray with some really mild stuff and control that. So you don't have to blast it with heavy chemicals. That's great. Well thank you so much for telling us all about this, and it's really exciting to learn a about this new and up and coming trend in farming. You're going to see more of this stuff. The crops are super clean, ready to eat and beautiful. I'm with David Goodman who is the CEO of Rally House, which is a multifaceted operation. Well can you tell me about what you do? - So the Rally Point Foundation is our umbrella nonprofit organization. The mission of the Rally Point Foundation is primarily to help people in early recovery addiction health, or people who are socioeconomically challenged. We started off as a recovery home for men in Nashville who coming out of treatment, or sometimes coming out of jails or institutions, and then giving them a next step, which is the recovery home setting. - Transitioning back into society. - Exactly, so after that 30-60 day treatment stay a lot of the work that's done for people as they're rehabilitating happens outside of the treatment. And so a lot of times like just having a place to live, in that setting is where we start working with guys as they integrate back into society. - I see, so the foundation is set up to support their effort. - [David Goodman] The recovery home's mission and the Rally Point Foundation's mission is to assist guys as they figure all of those things out, but help them to make recovery the priority while also just the practical. - [Marty Dehart] Not get derailed by their daily needs. Yeah, that makes sense. - So the idea of the farm was to give some sort of useful or meaningful work, or structure for someone, if they were coming out of that setting. It wouldn't be required, it would just be an option. Like we do this, you can hang out with me or Emily or whoever's working with us at the time. And we can do this kind of work until we figure out what that more long term job is going to be for that person. - Until they find their way back into their ordinary life. - That's the idea. - I see, well that's wonderful work that you're doing. And this makes a lot of sense as a very compact and efficient way to address that, that's lovely. - Yeah, it was originally because, I mean, I grew things as a hobby. One of the reasons I was interested in this was because it was like a turn key system of growing, that we could immediately start implementing. Like you learn the steps, and then you apply them. - Yeah, you're ready to go. - You're ready to go. So if you follow these steps this is the result, and if you put in the right work. So that's why we did it. But it's also just a really great way of demonstrating a different way of growing food and turning like this concrete urban environment into a something useful. Because prior to this, it was just concrete and just... - [Marty Dehart] Repurposing a container and all those things. - [David Goodman] Another part of the mission is getting young people involved and thinking about this as a viable way of growing food. - [Marty Dehart] Right. I love your vision, that's really nice to hear. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. - [David Goodman] Thank you guys for coming. - We're in AlmaVille Tennessee at AlmaVille Bamboo Company. We're here with Chris Buker, and he's going to share with us. Seeing how I'm new and you might be new too, he's going to let us know the basics before we branch off into the different varieties of bamboo. Chris, what can you tell us about it? - Well, let's start with the things that are most unique about bamboo as a plant, because these are the things that are at least understood by most of the folks that come to our shop. Number 1, is that bamboo has a 60 day growth cycle. What you're seeing here, this piece of bamboo, grew from infancy all the way to the top in 60 days. - [Sheri Gramer] So where does the growth cycle start? Like about one month? - That is determined by the temperature of the ground and the species. But for most species that takes place in April and May. - [Sheri Gramer] Okay. - So everything that grows on above ground is going to happen in April and May of the year, and then after that, all of the activity is underground. This is what a new leaf forming looks like that's after it's opened. This is a shoot that wasn't here last year. We built this screen with the intent of blocking the view from the neighbors in a period of two years. So we put the plants three feet apart. Three feet apart rule of thumb is a two year screen. Let me show you what we started with, and then what it produced. This was the original mother plant right there. The only shoot it produced last year was this single shoot. That's all you saw here, until three feet further down. All of the rest of this production is what it accomplished in the interim. This is what the nutrients that were stored underground between the end of May of last year, and the 1st of April this year produced all of what you see from similar plants down through here. Now, if you started out with a bigger mother plant like this one, see how much bigger that is.? It produced this shoot last year. So a bigger mother plant produces a bigger shoot and therefore accomplishes more down through here. - Why are you talking about a bigger mother plant, bigger shoot, I think it's important to mention too, the bamboo only gets as tall as that bamboo gets, it doesn't continue to get taller every year it grows, Correct? - No, that is one of the most common misconceptions we have to deal with when we bring people on site. Because you're used to buying a tree like a Leyland or an Arbiovitae, and it starts out at six feet, and then a few years later it's 10, and then a few years later it's 20. That doesn't happen with bamboo. The existing plant never changes its size. When we go to the other side of the Creek, you'll see pieces that are 60 feet tall, and four inches in diameter, and they got there in seven weeks. From nothing to full height in seven weeks. - [Sheri Gramer] You can almost stand there and watch it grow, can you? - [Chris Buker] You practically can watch it grow. Now, that of course is only in a mature grove. But most of our customers, commercial or residential are trying to accomplish something like we've got here. In this case, it's because we have equipment next to our shop and we didn't want them to have to look at it. If you want one that forms faster, you simply more plant material in. - [Sheri Gramer] Can you tell me about the depth of the soil? - One of the things we do in consulting with a customer when they come on site, is determine what micro climates they have. In Middle Tennessee, in particular, in this part of Middle Tennessee, we've got a lot of rock. I could take you to several places here on the farm, and you could turn around and see seven or eight rock outcroppings. Which is to say that we have shallow soil. That's a problem for a tree line. I can take you to locations within a mile right here, three places, where you've got tree plantings and dead trees in there. Maybe it's disease on occasion, sometimes it's simply thin soil. Bamboo will grow in six inches of soil if there's some deep soil nearby. So it levels you could say, and the plants are just as healthy on top of the thin soil as they are in the deep soil. As far as conditions are concerned, the only thing we have to determine is how wet the soil is. If you've got croods, if you got really damp soil, that guides my recommendation as to which species to get, because there are only a few that have air channels in the rhizome. - So basically when a customer comes to see you you're counseling them because they don't know, like I don't know until you ask all these questions. - That's exactly why. And that's what the fun is of doing what we do here. Sure, we like the commercial accounts also of course, but it's a lot more fun to take a customer and walk them through and help them figure out exactly what it is that they need to do. They may come in here with trepidations about, is it going to get out of control? We simply take them and show them the different methods of control. - [Sheri Gramer] All right Chris, got the basics down. - [Chris Buker] Okay. - [Sheri Gramer] Let's talk about varieties. I noticed a big screen behind us with some beautiful yellow bamboo stocks. Tell me about that one, because it creates a beautiful screen. That's a big screen, you'd use it in... - It can be, but you'll see that at Bridgestone's headquarters and several other locations in Downtown Nashville, including some of the most expensive real estate down there on the rooftops. Because of two things, it's really pretty, it's got a striking color, but it's also extremely tough. We've got some of that plant in Chicago. So it's going to be hardy enough to withstand the conditions of winter wins in Downtown Nashville. - [Sheri Gramer] Does the bamboo in Middle Tennessee that you're producing and selling, does that always die? Drop the leaves, die off in the winter time? Or if we have a mild winter, will it continue to grow all winter or how does that work? - [Chris Buker] That's a good question. Right now is the time of year when these things drop their leaves. If you were to go over next to that grove, you would find leaf litter, and yet you would never have seen it dropping the leaves, it replaces the leaves just like a pine tree does. There never is a time when that plant you're discussing doesn't have dark green, beautiful leaves, even when it's laden with snow. The plant has been to the ground and when it falls out, it pops right back up. - So when we're talking about the container plants, is there a particular species that you would recommend over other ones? - Actually when it comes down to containers, the size of the container to a large extent will dictate how big the plants get. A plant that's 23 feet right there, if you go down next to the highway, you'll see exactly the same plant that's only nine feet tall because it's in a container with nine square feet of surface area. It's confined, it's only so big that it can get consequently. But there are many variables. Some plants might, for example, have a very nice, large dark green leaf but suffer from winter conditions. Some people will discard that. Other people will pick that because they like the look of the plant. Arrow would be an example of that. Temple Bamboo is another. It's got a beautiful, rich brown color to the comb, but it's subject to a little bit of winter burn. So when the customer one makes his decision about what they want to do in terms of where they want to plant it, then I guide them through making the selection based on taste. - [Sheri Gramer] All right Chris, give me one more variety that you recommend for homeowners. - [Chris Buker] I think that you'd find the same one that the landscape architects routinely specify is Bissetti. It's a deep, dark green comb with a deep dark green leaf. And, that's what you're looking at behind me. This is a mixture of Spectabilis and Bissetti. There's nothing wrong with intermixing species. And if we get tired of one, we simply trim it back self. One of the interesting things which we can show you is that, it is capable of being trimmed almost to any shape you can think of. You can change your mind once per year, because you're trimming the new shoots. Once you've trimmed it, it's going to stay that way until 10 months later. - Well, thank you very much for sharing Chris, - Thanks for having us. - I appreciate it. - Just North of Downtown Nashville and Historic Germantown is a beautiful little garden. It is the Campbell Land Trust Garden, and it was recently inducted into The Tennessee Land Trust. And we're gonna go take a quick tour and see all the tender loving care that's been put into it. I'm here with Berdelle Campbell in this spectacular garden. Why don't you just tell me about it? - Well, this star garden, started out as my husband's garden, Ernest Campbell. He was a professor at Vanderbilt and when he was starting retirement he said, "When I retire, I'm going to be a gardener." He went to Master Gardener, so he was a master gardener, and the whole idea was his. That from Street to Alley we'll space, and that anywhere we traveled, anywhere in the world that he saw something growing, especially if it was an indigenous plant, he wanted some of it. Right back here it wasn't indigenous, but there're specimens in here that inspired him that was from lots of places. You couldn't bring plants, but you could buy seeds, and you could find addresses that you could order them from places that had license to ship them. But our specialty is native plants. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Wonderful. And we have a collection of wildflowers back here. These are wild Woodland flocks, - Yeah. - the purple. And in here are at least three kinds of Woodland violets, which become a plague from time to time. The Virginia bluebells have finished except one tiny spec I can see back there. And over here is Star of David, Star of Bethlehem, different people. - The whites. - That's a wild one - And these are my apples. Oh, and here's one with a blossom. - [Phollipe Chadwick] Yeah, here's one that's just starting to open. - Every plant has one white blossom and there'll be one little green apple there. - [Phillipe Chadwick] So this is a beautiful little jungle here. - [Berdelle Campbell] Yes, and it's a heritage bulb that goes back. It's supposed to be the kind that the early settlers, the first people that planted flowers in this country likely had some of those. - [Berdelle Campbell. My mother had some, but we weren't settling America. And behind it is the Chinese blue forget me not which is just a favorite of mine. And I love that little blue forget me not. - [Phillipe Chadwick] And so, these are the Spanish bluebells.? - [Berdelle Campbell] Yes, and occasionally, you get a pink one like that one. - [Phillipe Chadwick] A few pink ones there. - Yeah, and then these are species tulips and species are never hybrids. They've never been hybridized. This is the way they grow in the wild. We have at least five different kinds of species and they come up every year. These have been here at least 10 years. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Wow, so perennial tulips, yeah. - [Berdelle Campbell] Oh yes, you look at the front of that little blossom. And it's one of the most complex blossoms on the face of the Earth. - [Phillipe Chadwick] It is. - And that's the Traditional colors, we have some other columbine that's not. And we allow them to come up. We go with the flow and we've never had this clump here just all by itself. This is a new delight. - Now, is this your house actually right here? - Yes, this is my house. This is where I live. - And we grow no grass, we have no lawn. - Thank you. - We come out of the house into the garden. - [Phillipe Chadwick] So these are some really mature trees, tell me about these. - [Berdelle Campbell] The Kwanzan cherry, the pink one is the Kwanzan. Every tree in this garden we planted. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Wow, are these apple trees over here? - Oh yes that's an apple tree I have at least four apple trees. Maybe six. - [Phillipe Chadwick] You got a little mini orchard going on here. - [Berdelle Campbell] Oh yeah, not a mini, a big. And I think there were about 19 peach trees. - Oh,wow - That were very out of control. Now we have removed half the peach trees totally from the ground. And the ones who left, we pruned severely. And then we sprayed them with an acceptable approved organic spray. - [Phillipe Chadwick] So with this size of a garden there seems to be tons of work. How do you do this? - [Berdelle Campbell] It's tons of work, all right. And it's endless. And I'm lucky that as the garden became known as the Land Trust Garden, people called and said, "Well, can I help?" And I said, "Those are dangerous words, the answer is yes." And so I've had as many as a half dozen different people. Not at one time, working here. But four people are here off and on regularly. And now Steve is more than a volunteer. He's a volunteer, but he's also the man you have that prune the peach trees, and sprayed the peach trees. And he also is a gardener over at Monell's. - So between Monell's and Campbell Garden, we keep him very full term occupied. So it demands a lot of help. And then if something is needed to be done and we can't do it, then it waits until we can. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Sure. - We let the plants have a mind of their own and then have to be casual about, we're serious, but we get the jobs done, but nothing is rigid. - Well, I can tell it's a working garden. and I love the flows of it. And you just let things seat out and let them be where they want be. - And if you visit next week and come down this path, you'll stop and say, "But this is not like it was." and it's truth. - It's constantly evolving. - And now later in the year, keep in touch because the lilies are a show. - Oh, I bet, yeah. - They really are. The early spring bulbs and the ephemerals are, you seeing that this must be my favorite because it's so wonderful to get them after winter. But then when the lilies move in, but they are not native flowers. The blooming things are the showpieces that we enjoy. But the wild plants, those are still our favorite. - So we've got this wonderful sign that you've got here, that's talking about the induction of it in the Land Trust. So when did that happen? And tell me about that. - Well, this was last summer. We had a garden tour and that's the picture of the first spring we lived in this house. And that's the row houses that are restored beautifully. And that's Ernest tilling the first time, and I'm digging with a hole back there. That was his first and this was his last spring in the garden. And those are the last two loops that he planted. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Oh, that's wonderful. And I'm sure they're still blooming today. - [Berdelle Campbell] Oh, they are. Of course I was gardening with him, but there were days I said it's his inspiration and some days it's my persecution. But we were both in here working on it. One of the things that bothered him greatly, he'd be sitting out here on a stool, pulling weeds, planting bulbs, and saying, "I wish there was something that I could do that would assure me that when I can't garden this place nobody can put any buildings on it." And we didn't know anything could. So when the Land Trust started focusing on preserving urban green space, I jumped at the opportunity and called Jean Nelson, and she knew the garden and she was as excited as I was. So to have it under protective easement, is just a dream that he was having that he didn't think would ever come true. I want you to see the Carolina Silverbell before you leave. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Yeah, well let's go look at it. - [Berdelle Campbell] Okay, all right. You have to come around and then look up because we've been looking down so much. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Wow yeah. When we first walked in, I totally missed this. I was just over my head the whole time. - [Berdelle Campbell] This was our our master bedroom, it was up there with the windows. It was so wonderful every morning to be greeted with it. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Sure. And so this garden is open to the public. You like to have people walk through? - Well, it isn't. No, it's not open to the public. People can check with me. And I've told neighbors if you're wandering through, I'd like to see you, check, if I miss you, and there's something you want to see, there's a gate at the front and a gate at the back, so they may walk through. But it's not an official public garden. It's a private garden, that I like to share with people. - Wonderful, yeah. Well, it really is a gem here in Historic Germantown - [Berdelle Campbell] Well you're very nice. - [Phillipe Chadwick] I really appreciate you sharing your stories and the history of the garden, it's really been fun. - [Berdelle Campbell] I've enjoyed doing it. - [Phillipe Chadwick] Thank you so much. - [Berdelle Campbell] And come back, especially when the lilies bloom. - [Narrator] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips and garden projects, visit our website @volunteerGardener.org or on YouTube at The Volunteer Gardener Channel. And like us on Facebook.
April 21, 2022
Season 30 | Episode 16
Marty DeHart is excited for the future of farming on a visit to Rally House Farms. It's a vertical hydroponic growing system housed in a 320 square foot shipping container. Sheri Gramer learns the factors to consider when determining which variety of bamboo would best suit your desired outcome and growing space. Phillipe Chadwick tours an urban garden that will remain for generations to come.
Watch Clips from this Episode
Vertical hydroponics: growing UP
Marty DeHart tours Rally Farms, the first Nashville-based urban hydroponic farm utilizing a recycled insulated shipping container to grow produce hydroponically. Their specialties are culinary herbs and leafy greens. That includes lettuce in both mini and full-head varieties, arugula, mustard greens, and kale.