Sustainable Salads with South Mountain MicroFARM

You’d ‘butter’ believe it! Using the hydroponic greens and butterhead lettuces from South Mountain MicroFARM is the perfect way to not only make your salads tastier, but more nutrient-dense! To make it even better, supporting local, aquaponic farms like South Mountain MicroFARM helps reduce your carbon footprint and promotes sustainable farming year-round. ‘Lettuce’ tell you a little about why we love adding the delightful greens from South Mountain MicroFARM to our meals…

1. Sustainability

When you use South Mountain MicroFARM lettuces, you are contributing to a circular, symbiotic growing system that challenges the sustainable agricultural world of today as we know it!  South Mountain MicroFARM operates on 1/8th of an acre of what a conventional soil farm can on 1 acre, using 1/10th of the water to grow a similar crop.

How it works? We’ll let the farm tell you!

“Doing more with less is the theory behind this form of agriculture, while protecting biodiversity, limited resources, rural communities and individuals’ health. Our fish are fed a diet consisting of sustainably sourced grains and plant based proteins, free of antibiotics and hormones. The waste from the fish in the form of ammonia from the gills/urea, digested/undigested feed flows through various stages of bio-filtration where naturally occurring bacteria break it down into nutrients usable by our crops.”

“Vegetable crops take up the nutrients, using them to grow and thrive, while filtering the water. [This allows] us to produce our products without the use of any synthetic fertilizers. Filtered water recirculates back to the fish to start the cycle over!”

Both the fish and crop cultivation zones, not to mention the diverse eco-system of microorganisms, are monitored and maintained under the same roof and water column so that they can work symbiotically, just as nature had intended it to be. 

The same microbial organisms and biological processes used by plants in soil-based agriculture for nutrient delivery, disease suppression, and environmental regulation are found in aquaponics at a comparable quantity and diversity to soil, if not greater.

To eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides the growers at South Mountain MicroFARM combat unwanted pests, that might just happen to find their way into their bio-secure facility, with Biological Pest Control. Good bugs versus bad bugs! 

Additionally, by utilizing Horticultural LED technology, they achieve up to 70% energy savings, while providing optimal light spectrum, intensity, nutritional benefits and disease fighting strategies year-round.

2. Taste the difference 

The lettuces from South Mountain MicroFARM that find a happy home on your table are often fresh-picked moments before they are hand-delivered from the farmers themselves to our farm here at From the Farmer. Talk about fresh! With a greenhouse system that allows the farmers to grow every season, these lettuces make nutritious, fresh produce accessible all through the year.

With produce that is often less than 24-hours old, it’s only natural that you can taste the crisp, unfaded nutrients that create a flavor that will not disappoint! Now that’s what we call straight from the farm. And let us tell you, you will taste the difference! But don’t just take our word for it…

The science behind it all? To start, the healthy microbes found in produce, in most cases, actually make it taste better! Having more microbe ‘good guys’ feeding the root of the plant helps the plant to thrive. These microbes give the roots access to more nutrients, yielding a greater nutrient-density in the plant’s growth, and increases the plant’s ability to flourish.

While you may at first be deterred by these little critters, their role in flavor augmentation is critical. The more ‘good guys’ available to encourage the essential chemical processes during veg growth, the more versatile and complex flavors develop. And South Mountain MicroFARM has unlocked the secret to doing just that.

“Since we do not use these synthetic chemicals in our production and provide a hospitable environment for these microbes to thrive, they are found in higher concentrations than that found in organically farmed soil.”


3. Made with love, from their farm to your table

South Mountain MicroFARM is a family-owned and operated farm in Boonsboro, MD. Some of our team members had the pleasure of touring the farm and meeting the family. Made up of Levi, his mother Billie Jo, father Mark, and partner, Brittany, this family truly puts their passion into their work. You can even find Levi and Brittany’s daughter, Sedona, running about the greenhouse, just spreading the love. 

The care that gets put into the sustainable systems and growth of South Mountain’s product are truly immeasurable. Levi and his family love what they do, and it’s no news that produce grown with the extra-care that passionate farmers extend will yield a better tasting product.

To Levi and his family, the future of food is of utmost importance. Their desire to change the way the world views agriculture is unmatched, and it shows. From the delicate care they provide to each individual crop, to the complex systems they have developed that run the entire greenhouse, this family’s efforts are changing the game of agriculture and hydroponics across the nation.

Salad Recipes with South Mountain MicroFARM

Spring is here! And that means it’s time for some light, nutritious, spring salads! We love using South Mountain MicroFARM’s arugula in a spring salad with shaved raw vegetables— Think: squash, green zucchini, orange carrots, portobello mushrooms, fresh peas and a simple lemon vinaigrette. This buttery and slightly-spicy arugula has a peppery kick that pairs well with the bright citrus and is balanced by the delicate sweetness of the raw vegetables and the earthiness of the mushrooms. If you’re looking for an extra crunch, we recommend topping it with plenty of sunflower seeds.

Looking for a heartier salad for a breezy spring day? Toss South Mountain MicroFARM green oak leaf lettuce and butterhead lettuce with thinly sliced red Bartlett pears, dried cranberries, shaved rainbow carrots, caramelized cippolini onions, sliced almonds, and topped with goat cheese and a balsamic drizzle. South Mountain’s green oak leaf lettuce has a beautiful nutty undertone that pairs well with the soft, tangy goat cheese and the sweetness of the dried cranberries and pears.

Here at From the Farmer, we are incredibly grateful to have a relationship with the wonderful people of South Mountain MicroFARM and spread their mission. You can shop their lettuces in our store to jump-start your spring salad living and support hydroponic agriculture.

So what are you waiting for— it’s time to make some sustainable salads!