Ryan Oates is our plant-smart farmer behind all things hydroponics at Tyger River Smart Farm in Reidville, SC! His love of all things green stems (hehe plant humor) from his studies in Botany, his Masters degree in Plant Molecular Biology, and from his mom, Joyce, who is a Master Gardener!
In fact, Ryan was growing all of his plants in his Mom’s greenhouse in her backyard when he started the farm in 2012. In November of 2016, he moved into his new 13,000ft greenhouse that has so much room for all the great greens he provides SRCG. The greenhouse is super lush inside, smells so fresh, and is newly GAP Certified. Ryan says he is “serious about food safety!”
Tyger River’s Certified SC grown lettuces, kale, arugula and herbs are all non-GMO, chemical-free, and sustainable sources of nutrition and beauty for our Swamp Customers. The hydroponics system is also very environmentally friendly. It utilizes space efficiently and is extremely low-waste because everything recycles back into the system. The water source that Tyger River draws from is a pristine artesian aquifer located far beneath the ground. The system uses about 1/10th the water a traditional farm usually uses and, since soil is not used, there is no chance of contamination through runoff.
NO SOIL?!?! Don’t worry, there is nothing Frankenstein-ish about growing these tasty greens. In fact, all of the nutrients that a plant could want and need are provided in a continuous stream of clean water containing natural mineral salts. For all of you science and agricultural lovers out there, the specific technique he uses is called the Nutrient Film Technique. The root ball at the end of the plant is still alive when you buy it! If you need to store it a little longer than usual, Ryan recommends adding a little water to the bag before putting it into the fridge and it will stay #superfresh. A really neat fact is that you CAN actually replant his hydroponic basil into the ground with a little care and love!
Ryan also refers to himself as a “sun-worshiper!” This might seem weird because he grows his plants inside, but the Sun is actually the most vital contribution to the hydroponics system! Tyger River’s greenhouse is situated to allow for maximum sunlight to reach the plants and they wouldn’t survive without it. Make sure you wear your sunglasses if you get a chance to visit! There are also some fun red and blue LED lights that help activate different types of chlorophyll in the plant needed for photosynthesis. At night time, it would make a great spot for a dance party!
Everything that SRCG gets from Tyger River is crisp and freshly packaged by Ryan’s mom, Joyce! We also get the privilege of seeing his dad, Roy, during deliveries. If you can catch Roy while he is here, make sure to ask him about all things Clemson football; he hasn’t missed a home game since the 70s! Before Ryan found his calling in hydroponics, he was a cabinet installer and professional woodworker. Can you say, multi-talented?! He is also our only farmer that has twins! We love having such a unique farm in our #swampfarmer family! #eatyourgreens