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When you think of Aruba, you think of the turquoise blue ocean, white sand beaches 🏖, and even a desert-like landscape with 🌵 cacti.
You most likely don’t think lettuce farm. Right? It turns out lettuce can grow quite easily in Aruba under the right circumstances. In this case, by practicing vertical farming. If you’re unfamiliar, vertical farming is the practice of growing crops indoors, stacked vertically, and often incorporating controlled-environment agriculture.
Founded in 2017, 297 Farm was created as a potential future alternative to importing all Aruba’s fruits and vegetables. Prices keep going up, including that of produce. What if Aruba can grow some right here on the island? Sustainability is an important topic when discussing growing food and its benefit to the Aruban people. Not only will prices be more affordable, but the product will also be fresher and healthier, and the process won't deplete nutrients from the land as traditional farming does. 297 Farm uses no pesticides, and the water is treated with nutrients.
💡The current 1500m2 of land is now occupied by their first fully indoor and sterile facility: the 297 Farm greenhouse.
When I spoke to founder Patricia, she informed me that four more greenhouses would be built in the coming months on the same land. That news was, of course, music to my ears. More greenhouses equal not only more lettuce but also more space to experiment with growing other types of fruits and vegetables right here in Aruba. That will benefit us all, no?
Growing crops in the ground in Aruba is challenging. As mentioned above, the desert-like landscape makes it nearly impossible to grow most foods. When stepping into the greenhouse for the first time, I felt like I was looking into the future. So much green leafy goodness surrounded us while the earth outside was dry.
Along with seeds from the Netherlands, 297 Farm uses TAPKIT Hydroponics tech from Israel. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Aside from not using soil, it also uses less water than traditional soil-based systems. The cool, pH-balanced water is circulated and reused for seven days using a sloped-gravity technique. The climate conditions in the greenhouse and other crop stats are monitored easily through an app.
The lettuce takes about 5 to 6 weeks to grow from seed to head. The popular Butterhead and Romaine lettuce heads are harvested every Monday and distributed to participating local supermarkets. The goal is to have locally grown lettuce in every supermarket on the island.
💡297 Farm lettuce can be purchased at Ling & Sons, Superfood, Do It Center, PriceSmart, and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on location in Savaneta.
The farm is currently experimenting with Iceberg and other variations, and it seems promising. The Caribbean Iceberg head looks different but beautifully green and fresh. Next on the list is Bok Choy, and I for one am very eager to find out how that turns out. The Netherlands is currently #1 in most things that grow, but it’s exciting to see that our little rock in the ocean can also produce beautiful leafy greens. It really is farming of the future. 🚀
We’re just getting started with the amazing effects Aruba has to offer. Dig into your trip details below to unlock a Caribbean experience that will leave you sunnier, happier, and (of course) a little more tanned.