Westland Produce Saves Water by Saying No to Dirt

If you order our Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups this week, you’ll receive a head of butter lettuce with its roots intact. This living lettuce comes to us from Westland Produce in Carpinteria, a coastal farming region near Santa Barbara, California. There are no fields at this unusual farm. The greens grow instead in vast greenhouses with their roots suspended in a water bath.

At a time when water is a scarce resource, hydroponic farming may seem like an environmentally damaging practice. The irony is that growing plants in water instead of dirt actually saves water. Without acres of thirsty soil to feed, 100 percent of the water goes directly to the plants. Farms like Westland Produce have yields up to 20 times more than conventional outdoor growers and use 80 percent less water and fertilizer. Because the roots travel with the lettuce after it’s picked, they continue to deliver nutrients to the lettuce which stays fresh for as long as three to four weeks.