NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A farm housing thousands of plants is hidden inside a 320-square-foot shipping container at the back corner of a North Charleston distillery.
The tiny self-contained unit, known as King Tide Farms, is challenging the conventional understanding of farming, sustaining nearly 18,000 plants on less than five gallons of water per day.
Hamilton Horne is the hydroponics farmer behind King Tide Farms. He said that he started the business as a way to meet the need for high-quality, organic, sustainable food. Now, he’s selling that food to local restaurants.
“I’ve always been around food, and I’ve always liked really good food,” Horne said. He said that he hopes to be a resource for restaurants, “helping them with these awesome ingredients that you’re not finding anywhere else.”
He grows unique ingredients like radicchios, multiple varieties of mustard greens and basils, arugula, and much more.
The setup is simple. The plants grow vertically on wicking strips hung up the walls. The strips provide just enough moisture to the roots of the plants, and excess water is reused.
Horne said that the method actually nets a surplus of water since the plants generate more water through condensation than they actually absorb from the strips.
As a third-generation farmer, Horne knows and respects traditional farming practices, but believes that as times change, a space is opening for practices like his to fill the gap.