a close up of a bird

Natural Grocers releases greens grown from nearby hydroponic garden

A variety of lettuces are available at a store in Lakewood, Colo., grown on-site in its GardenBox hydroponic garden.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
Dan Ochwat profile picture

Shoppers at a Natural Grocers store in the retailer’s hometown of Lakewood, Colo., now have access to leafy greens organically grown just 82 steps away.

The retailer has released its exclusive GardenBox lettuces, a line of greens grown in a hydroponic garden, a recent pilot program that takes place at the Green Mountain store in Lakewood. The hydroponic garden delivers living produce with roots intact for a longer shelf life and better flavor, is certified organic by Where Food Comes From Organic (WFCFO) and comes with a Clean Hydroponic Produce seal, according to the retailer.

the inside of a building

The garden has produced a variety of GardenBox lettuces such as Hamption, Brentwood, Alkindus, Tropicana, Muir, Marciano and Truchas.

The greens were available beginning July 7 and sold at $1.99 per head.

On the outside the GardenBox hydroponic garden looks like a shipping container but inside is a garden that’s climate controlled with technology to regulate the amount of water, light and nutrients needed to optimize the growth and nutritional value of the greens.

The greens inside are grown using hydroponic farming practices with certified organic seeds germinated in organic-friendly peat and coconut husk, where roots develop before being transplanted to a vertical, space-saving operation. GardenBox uses less water than outdoor agricultural methods, according to Natural Grocers, with nutrient-rich water trickling across the roots throughout the growing process and can be adjusted as needed. The produce gets harvested daily and walked to the store to sell.

"Natural Grocers has been committed to selling fresh, 100% organic produce from day one as a way for us to support our communities and our planet," said Natural Grocers co-president Kemper Isely. "This next step — of sustainably growing organic and clean hydroponic produce ourselves, on site, and harvested fresh for our store every morning — truly speaks to that commitment and to who we are as a company. We can't wait for our hometown community to taste produce that was grown literally right outside our store."