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Hydroponic farming bypasses Mother Nature's fickle nature

Jeff Adams, owner of Circle A Lettuce, has mastered the art

Cold winter, hot summer; too much rain, too little. It hardly matters to Jeff Adams, owner of Circle A Lettuce. Each week year-round, he harvests about 3,000 heads of lettuce from his hydroponic greenhouse in Cumming. Hydroponic farming bypasses soil by feeding plants directly through water. Adams, a former contractor, built his 10,000-square-foot greenhouse in 2011; a year later he added an additional 4,000 square feet to keep up with demand.

The language of local food is about natural cycles, the richness of the soil, a sense of place. Hydroponics is about control, consistency, efficiency. The lack of sentimentality doesn’t bother Adams. He finds beauty in the bright greenhouse, the tightly packed rows of greens, the triumph of science over the unpredictability of nature. His plants are never exposed to synthetic herbicides or pesticides, and they are so clean, they don’t have to be washed. He delivers most of his lettuce—Bibb, romaine, and a year-round “spring” mix (red and green oakleaf, red and green romaine, and Lolla Rosa lettuces)—to multiple stops in the northern suburbs via direct order at circlealettuce.com.

This article originally appeared in our March 2014 issue.