One purpose for recycling organic waste, such as restaurant food waste, and grocery store food waste, is to produce methane in a closed system to produce energy. This energy is used to warm our greenhouses for cucumber production. With the recycled organic waste, we are able to produce cucumbers year ’round.
Julie manages the cucumber production on the Barham farm. The cucumbers are grown in pots filled with horticultural perlite. Perlite contains no nutritional value for the cucumbers and serves primarily as a growing medium for the cucumber root structure. The cucumbers obtain all of their nutritional requirements from the water, which is supplemented with nutrients needed for optimum growth.
Perlite also has advantages over soil. It is not as susceptible to harmful bacteria growth as soil is, which can decimate an entire “crop” within a greenhouse. Additionally, it can be reused several times.
The Barham Farm is about as “green” as a farm can get and we have been committed to using environmentally sound farming techniques for decades.
No pesticides or insecticides are used on the cucumbers to control harmful insects. We manage pest control by using environmentally sensitive measures. First, we use yellow sticky traps to catch unwanted and harmful bugs. We also use beneficial bugs, or “good bugs,” to help control the bad bugs, which harm the cucumbers.
Cucumbers are grown on a rotating basis so that our farm always has fresh cucumbers to pick for shipment to grocery stores. Cucumbers seeds are planted in little pods of nutrient rich soil and once they have their second set of leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into the perlite pots.
Nothing goes to waste on this farm! Nutrient-rich water from the recycled organic waste is used to water and feed the cucumbers through our automatic irrigation system. Cucumbers love water and they receive plenty of it! Additionally, the greenhouses in which the cucumbers are grown are heated by the methane gas produced from the recycling process. Not only that, but the perlite in which the cucumbers grow is reused. Finally, when the cucumber plants start to die, they are recycled with the other organic waste in the anaerobic digester to produce more methane gas. So, as you can see, nothing goes to waste here!
Once the cucumbers are ready, they are picked, washed, rinsed and dried. Once they have completely dried after being washed and rinsed, they are individually wrapped to maintain freshness. They are also sorted by appearance. Cucumbers that are straight are sent to the grocery stores. Any cucumbers that are not straight, or have bends in them, are sent to restaurants for slicing in salads and other recipes.