HillTop Greens is a part of a company called FarmTek, that designs and builds greenhouses. We wanted to show people what our greenhouses looked like, so we built two of them at our location in Dyersville, Iowa. In 2018 we decided that we wanted to start selling the produce we were growing to our local community. From there we started treating the greenhouses as if they were their own little business that we named Hilltop Greens.
Because we are growing in greenhouses, we are able to heat them in the wintertime so we can grow plants all year round. We also have special lights for the plants in the wintertime since it isn’t as sunny in the winter as it is in summer. And the plants need a lot of light to grow!
So, what is growing in our greenhouses? Vegetables! We grow a lot of lettuce, leaf lettuce, romaine, red oak leaf, sweet crisp, and butter head. We also grow spinach, kale, basil, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. If you added up the number of lettuce plants, plus the kale, spinach, and basil, we have 5,688 plants growing at all times. Those plants are all 2 – 6 weeks old, so when the oldest ones are harvested, we plant new ones in their place. This way we will have the same number of plants to harvest each week, all year round. We also have 48 cucumber plants and 192 cherry tomato plants.
Our plants are not grown in soil like you may think. Instead, we are growing them using a technique called hydroponics. This is where the plants are grown in nutrient-rich water instead of soil. This growing technique allows us to give the plants the exact amount of nutrients they need to grow. It also gives us the ability to recirculate the water and nutrients the plants do not take up and reuse it again and again.
So, do all of our plants just take care of themselves? No way! We have 4 people at Hilltop Greens who play a role in getting this fresh produce to you. Allie sows all of the seeds and plants them into place, Angus harvests the greens and takes care of the cucumbers, Jessica tends to the cherry tomatoes and makes sure the plants are getting the right amount of nutrients, and Jena delivers all of it to restaurants, schools, and various other places in the community.
We enjoy growing the produce but being able to share it with our friends and neighbors is definitely the best part!