28 SEPTEMBER 2017 LEDsmagazine.com
lighting | HORTICULTURE
plants still alive in small pots with the roots
in hydroponic soil-less media. A customer
could carry a purchase home and plant it if
so desired, but the primary intention is that
consumers will enjoy produce that’s essentially harvested minutes before preparation.
The cost of the various greens and herbs was
in the $4 range when we visited the store.
The project took about two years for realization of the Growtainer out back of the
Dallas store. Glenn Behrman is president of
Green Tech Agro and also operates a horti-cultural-centric consulting business called
CEA Advisors. Behrman worked with Central Market in defining what the grocer
wanted to accomplish and delivered the customized Growtainer. When we visited with
Behrman at the Dallas store in June, the
Growtainer had been in operation almost
eight weeks, and store-grown produce had
been on the shelf for just a few weeks. Lettuce can take five to six weeks from planting to harvest and some herbs can take as
little as two weeks.
Central Market’s Growtainer was built using
two shipping containers. A 40-ft-long con-
tainer houses the growing space with four
layers of racks of growing space running the
length of the container on each side of a nar-
row aisle. Behrman designed the rectangu-
lar metal racks and has them custom man-
ufactured to hold the hydroponic liquid that
circulates thought the soil-less media to the
roots of each plant (Fig. 2). The water and
nutrients can be individually supplied to any
of the racks in the Growtainer.
A separate 13-ft-long section of a second
shipping container has been welded onto
the 40-ft container, forming a 53-ft unit.
The smaller section houses the climate con-
trol, hydroponic, and other systems vital to
Growtainer operation. Fig. 3 shows part of
the water- and nutrient-control system.
The closed-loop control system maintains environmental variables such as temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels, and feeds the plants on a set schedule.
FIG. 2. An under-construction image shows the grow racks installed on one side of the Growtainer; you can clearly see on the right
side where there are no racks that there is plumbing enabling each rack to receive a customized nutrient and water mix.
FIG. 3. The water and nutrient mix is constantly tested and adjusted as different
groups of plants are fed.