Swanky Veggies Juicy hydroponic produce23 May 2012
The term hydroponics, from hydro meaning water and ponic meaning working in Latin, is the practice of growing plants in a flow of highly oxygenated, nutrient enriched water. A plant's diet must be well balanced. When growing in soil, biological decomposition breaks down organic matter into the basic nutrient salts that plants feed on. Water dissolves these salts and allows uptake by the roots. With hydroponics, water is enriched with these very same perfectly balanced nutrients. Darrin also enriches the water with his own fertilizer recipe. Since this hydroponic, nutrient-rich solution is contained, it does not harm the environment as does runoff from chemically fertilized soil. Darrin uses neem oil from the evergreen tree to control the aphids and mealy bugs and a natural bacterium for the caterpillars. Hydroponics is an excellent alternative for dry areas because very little water is lost to evaporation. Hydroponic plants have their food and water delivered directly to their roots, thus the energy normally used to develop long roots is redirected to growing more plant.
Darrin Swank designed his innovative farm, a 23,000 square foot shade house. The Swanks grow over 190 different vegetables, herbs and edible flowers without the use of herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. Their produce is picked when ripe and living with roots intact, making their shelf life longer while preserving nutrition. This method reduces disease and is far safer to eat than the pre-bagged salads in grocery stores, usually not only run through a chlorine bath for sterilization, but often gassed or irradiated as well.
The Swanks believe in the Slow Food philosophy which is all about supporting a clean and fair food system, about knowing the farmers and where the food is grown, supporting the local farm economy and educating the public and especially children. Editor's note: see issue 29/3 of Healing Our World for more on this movement. Jodi welcomes field trips from schools all over South Florida. Hippocrates Health Educators visit the Swanks three times per year.Besides selling their products to local, high-end restaurant chefs, the Swanks also market their goods at local farmers markets in the area and have a Community Supported Agriculture club allowing the public to buy locally grown produce as a co-op member. Jodi and Darrin Swank invite you to visit and taste the difference! You can contact the Swanks at (561) 202-5648 or visit
Aformer 100-ton coast-guard licensed sea captain and fisherwoman living the good life on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, Barbara Keller now enjoys life in South Florida while working at Hippocrates Health Institute in the Retail Store and Mail-Order Department.
Vol 29 Issue 4 page 38