To broaden the Llano Estacado’s food shed and lessen the environmental impact of traditional farming, Slaton native, Cory Roof plans to establish Ogallala Greens as a hydroponic vegetable farm in West Texas.
Over the past five years, Roof has helped construct and operate some of the most advanced greenhouses in the world. He worked for Plenty’s largest and most efficient vertical farm called Tigris, located in San Francisco. However, Roof said he felt the need to apply this urban farming mechanism in West Texas and moved back to his hometown last year.
“West Texas does not grow enough of its own produce,” Roof said. “People in this region, across multiple customer segments, desire an improvement in quality and availability of locally grown produce.”
Roof also stressed his desire to steward the Ogallala Aquifer. When using hydroponic technologies, farmers can grow produce in a controlled environment while utilizing less resources. According to Roof, these operations use 95% less water than traditional farming methods.
He explained these perfect growing conditions are not only ideal for shrinking the industry’s carbon footprint, but they also generate tastier and fresher food.
“This produce requires fewer chemical treatments,” Roof said. “It is completely pesticide free so when you get it, you can eat it right out of the package. It is incredibly safe because it’s not moving through the transportation network. With hydroponic produce, there is only one person who touches your food before it gets to you. This also leads to a longer shelf life.”
Roof has big aspirations for the business as he plans to build greenhouses across West Texas that can each house up to 15,000 plants at one time. Once up and running, the operation intends to employ 40-60 people across the region. Roof received a $25,000 grant from Texas Tech University that also provides a mentorship program to help further Ogallala Greens’ network and outreach to the West Texas community. As for the produce, he plans to provide lettuce, kale and other leafy greens beginning in July that will be available year-round.
“Our mission is to use hydroponic technology to provide West Texas with the freshest possible produce that is bursting with flavor and packed with nutrition by growing it right here in Lubbock County. we want to improve the quality of life for people in West Texas. People here deserve access to healthy and high-quality food.”