Our Commitment to Fresh
Is my produce from The Villages Grown Markets fresh?
The Villages Grown produce, along with produce from our Local Farm Network, is harvested and delivered to our stores within 2-48 hours. This means you can enjoy produce that ripened on the vine, was picked at its peak freshness, and that is rich in nutrients without any pesticides or chemicals used in the growing process.
Where is my produce coming from?
From right in your own backyard! The Villages Grown produce is planted, grown and harvested at our farm on SR 44 in The Villages. We use unique growing systems at our farm that adheres to extremely high food safety standards. Because of this, we rarely tour folks through our facilities, but should the opportunity arise, we’ll be sure to put the word out to the community.
We love spending time with members of our community at our Town Market in Brownwood Paddock Square and on our Mobile Airstream Market that pops up around The Villages!
A big part of The Villages Grown is our amazing Local Farm Network. By partnering with local, family farms and artisans, our hope is to bring the community together and provide a wide variety of produce and goods. Our model embraces a hyper-local food system.
What is a “Controlled Environment Agriculture” (CEA) greenhouse?
At The Villages Grown, all of our produce is grown and raised in state-of-the-art greenhouses that use Controlled Environment Agriculture (known as, ‘CEA’). This means we use advanced technology to conserve water, land and energy, along with other sustainable practices, that allows us to protect our crop and provide optimal growing conditions for the plants. The Villages Grown produce is grown in a Clean-Tech environment. With CEA, you can take pride in knowing your produce was grown in harmony with our environment, while also consuming nutrient-dense produce with a higher concentration of phytochemicals, vitamins and nutrients to fuel your healthy, active lifestyle.
How many greenhouses do you have?
Initially, The Villages Grown will have nine large, Controlled Environment Agriculture, greenhouses primarily consisting of hydroponically-grown produce. As we get growing, we will have more greenhouses and outdoor production sprouting up at our farm complex.
How does The Villages Grown actively take care of our environment?
Situated on 84 acres of land, The Villages Grown farm complex will initially house nine acres of greenhouses. However, the growing and production footprint is currently 45 acres. Of which we maximize the land area by using vertical growing methods. As we progress, our complex will continue to add more specialty greenhouses and various farming methods that will not only fill your belly, but also fill the additional acres of land with the utmost appreciation for our land and vital resources.
To better understand the benefits of vertical growing and its role in land conservation, here is a rule-of-thumb: A 1-acre, horizontal plot of traditional growing greenhouses is equal to 8 to 10 acres of growing space in our vertical growing operation at The Villages Grown. That’s a lot of produce to be picked in a small area of land!
At The Villages Grown, water is life and is extremely important for our plants, which is why we take extra care to preserve this natural resource. By reusing and recycling water throughout our growing complex with unique drip irrigation systems, as well as our advanced technology and strict water purity standards, we are able to reduce our water waste by up to 90%–giving us an A+ in environmental etiquette.
Low Carbon Footprint
In an effort to protect our environment, The Villages Grown believes in leaving a low carbon footprint. We do this by using sustainable practices and educating our community on how living vibrantly, not only tastes delicious, but also creates a happy, healthy life for ourselves and the Earth. By “keeping it in the community,” our hyper-local food system will create lower CO2 emissions and pollution by limiting our distribution and sourcing partners to within a 150-mile radius. Conscious efforts are placed on efficient energy, land and water usage. We also take pride in educating the community on how to enjoy a high-plant, low-meat diet, coupled with a zero food waste lifestyle with the importance of recycling and conservation. Through these measures, The Villages Grown is able to ensure a lower carbon footprint for our hometown while reaping the benefits of a happy, healthy community.
Just like pesticides and chemicals aren’t good for your body, they aren’t good for Mother Nature either. The Villages Grown has implemented an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in order to monitor, control and prevent pests from entering our greenhouses. We employ natural, biological methods such as beneficial insects and strategic plantings along with structural strategies. The farm is designed to completely avoid any need for toxic insecticides or pesticides to be used in the greenhouses.
The Growing Process
What is “hydroponically grown produce” or “hydroponics,” and how is it different from traditional growing?
Hydroponic farming is a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich, feeder system. At The Villages Grown, we primarily use hydroponic methods to grow the plant’s roots in water instead of soil. The necessary minerals and elements needed to grow healthy plants—and a healthy community—are generously supplied in the water that’s directly delivered to the root of the plant. This means a baby sprout or mature adult plant doesn’t need to stress out in search of vitamins or nutrients that they require to grow.
Science has not only shown us that the growth rate on a hydroponic plant is up to 50 times faster than a plant grown in soil, but it will also produce a stronger, healthier plant. And at The Villages Grown, we believe healthy plants make healthy people!
Is The Villages Grown produce grown organically?
While many people are in search of USDA organic food, The Villages Grown takes plant health and food safety a step further. By growing the produce in a Clean-Tech environment, protecting the plants using advanced technology, avoiding harmful chemicals and pesticides, and following strict food safety measures, we are able to harvest produce packed full of phytochemicals and nutrients. Our local partner farms also adhere to the same standards as The Villages Grown which makes all of us a match made in heaven.
Does The Villages Grown use Non GMO seeds?
We sure do! The Villages Grown works with seed suppliers that only offer non-genetically engineered seeds or plant stock.
How do you know the produce from The Villages Grown is very nutritious and healthy?
At our growing complex, we have two laboratories for testing the levels of nutrients in the produce and conducting ongoing research and development to ensure food safety and nutrient density. As Grown grows, we will be sending our produce to independent, 3rd party nutrient analysis laboratories to make sure we’re providing the best food possible for our community.
What types of nutrients are used to feed the plants and how do the plants get the nutrients?
Just like you, in order to be strong and healthy, we need to fuel our bodies with vitamins and nutrients—and a plant is no different! Our teams’ years of experience in agriculture and healthcare allow us to understand exactly what a plant needs to thrive and how to fuel it properly—which in turn fuels your health and wellness!
All plants need essential nutrients such as, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Our secret sauce to growing great produce is the innovative microbiome formula we created for our water; the use of beneficial, ocean-based nutrients; plus an oxygenation process to make the plant very nutritious and delicious! The plant receives all of this healthy, natural food through their root system and allows the plant direct access to the vitamins and nutrients they need.
How often do you harvest produce?
All of our produce is vine-ripened, which means that we harvest seven days a week in order to provide the community with produce that’s at its peak freshness and is rich in nutrients.
How do you harvest all the produce?
All of our produce is harvested by the hands of our incredible greenhouse team, along with some technological support!
Why is The Villages Grown produce so delicious?
If we answered, “Because it’s grown with love,” we would be telling the truth! We start our growing process with choice, non-GMO seeds and allow them to grow in a Controlled Environment Greenhouse. Thus, giving them everything they need around the clock— water concentrated with optimal vitamins and nutrients; just the right temperature and amount of lighting; a barrier from weather, pests, and detriments; and of course, the utmost care and attention.
Next on the list of delicious decisions we make for our plants—we allow our produce to naturally ripen right on the vine. This ensures it’s rich in nutrients and at its peak freshness when we pick it.
And one of the things that we think makes the biggest difference? Our produce is harvested and in your hands within 2-48 hours. This significantly decreases the timeframe of which a fruit or vegetable spends in transit and inventory from the farm to its destination, protecting the taste, shelf-life and nutrient density! Some produce is in transit for an average of 1,500 miles after it’s been picked a tad too soon, but we know our produce is at its best when it spends less time on the road. For this reason, our produce is only distributed to businesses within a 150-mile radius of our complex!
Also, because our produce is ripe for the taking within 2-48 hours after it’s been harvested, we avoid using any chemicals, or preservatives to prolong its viability.
How long will my leafy greens and lettuces last?
The Villages Grown living lettuces can last over two weeks if stored properly. Our microgreens and salad greens can last two weeks or longer when refrigerated, kept dry and free from outside air.
We’ve also heard that whispering sweet nothings to your produce helps keep it fresher longer, but we’ll need to conduct a tad more research on that before we make any promises.
Do I need to wash produce I’ve picked up from The Villages Grown?
Although our product is grown in a contaminate-free, clean-tech environment, other things can affect your produce from your point of purchase to arriving at your end destination. Therefore, it’s always good practice to wash any and all produce you buy, whether from The Villages Grown or other retailers. To wash our greens or microgreens, please do so just upon eating (and reserve washing any leftover produce that you are not using at the time) under cold running water in a sink or container that has been sanitized to avoid any cross-contamination. For all other produce we offer, we recommend soaking the produce in a one-part vinegar and four-part water solution within a sanitized sink or basin.
What’s the best way to store my produce?
To find answers on how to store your fruits and veggies from The Villages Grown, take a look at the Storing Produce section of our website.
If you’ve purchased our living lettuces, you can either put them in the refrigerator with the root system still attached or you can leave the product out at room temperature. Just be sure to make sure the root system remains moist!
You can also make storing produce a pretty addition to your kitchen! Place the root system in a glass vase with water and add some leafy love to your counter top!
Can I recycle the plastic containers my produce came in?
Yes! Most of our packaging is BPA free and can be recycled or reused for your own use. Due to our Food Safety Standards, we do not accept packaging back into our closed-loop system. For any questions regarding recyclable packaging, check with a store associate at The Villages Grown markets.
Getting the Goods
Will The Villages Grown be growing more than just greens?
Yes, and as our complex grows, so will our variety! Look for produce such as squash, green beans, cucumbers, tomato varieties, radishes and more— and adding new and exciting specialty selections all throughout the year! Our Local Farm and Artisan Network will also be adding to the variety of food offered and giving you plenty of options to choose from.
New items will be growing each month, so stay tuned!
Where can I find The Villages Grown products?
You’ll be able to find The Villages Grown produce, as well as selections from our Local Farms and Artisan Network in our Mobile Airstream Market that is cruising around The Villages, and our Town Market at Brownwood Paddock Square. Coming soon, the community will be able to get The Villages Grown products at different businesses and restaurants in The Villages and Central Florida.
Are any other stores or supermarkets carrying your products?
For the time being, our product is only available at our Town Market and Mobile Market — but we’re in the business of growing, so we’ll keep you posted on other places we might be sprouting up at. (See what we did there?)
Will restaurants in our community be serving The Villages Grown produce?
Various restaurants throughout The Villages will have The Villages Grown produce added to their menu soon! Be sure to look out for the “V” icon on restaurant menus and know you’re being served just-picked, nutrient-dense produce.
How do you make sure clean, safe produce is being grown and harvested from The Villages Grown?
The Villages Grown takes a very proactive approach to food safety:
- We have food scientists and Preventative Controls Qualified Individuals (PCQI) on our growing team.
- All of our employees have been trained on produce safety through required Food Safety Modernization Act protocols.
- We track and monitor the overall supply chain, as well as each and every seed, plant, and material from its original planting till it reaches its destination.
- Products are tested in our laboratories prior to shipment to make sure you’re getting clean, highly nutritious food.
- The Villages Grown has two laboratories at our growing complex that track microbiological activities, water purity, air quality, nutrient inputs, and more!
- We continually test our product, facilities and processes.
- We use technologically- advanced, environmental control systems that are paramount to our operation and the health and safety of our produce.
What standards of food safety do you meet?
The Villages Grown is fully compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act and adheres to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). We are also currently seeking Global GAP Certification, an internationally recognized standard, as our facility continues development.