Jesse Adkins is the multi-talented farmer and owner of Hurricane Creek Farms in Pelzer, SC. During his successful career in landscape design, Jesse had the fateful discovery of a hydroponic farm near one of his clients. He found the ingenuity behind hydroponics fascinating and thought that he would give it a try in 2006! He has built and maintained the 1800 ft2 greenhouses himself and grows everything from ginger to tomatoes! It’s the beautiful red and delicious tomatoes that we can get all winter long that hooked us here at SRCG. We even use them for our fresh tomato sauce on pizza!
Jesse’s hydroponic system utilizes only water and a blend of naturally occurring mineral salts and other vital nutrients that a plant needs. Unlike soil that may contain an unknown composition and is not easily manipulated, a hydroponic system allows a farmer to know exactly what and how much of a certain nutrient is being fed to the plants. Jesse is able to tell us everything single mineral that he uses and even sends samples of his water to the extensive hydroponic crop program at Ohio State to be tested. The transparency of a hydroponic system is amazing because, in the end, the saying “You are what you eat” is totally true.
The specific hydroponic systems that Hurricane Creek Farms utilizes are the Dutch Bucket System to grow tomatoes, peppers, and herbs and the Raft System for lettuce. Both of these systems allow for a fresh, clean, nutrient packed flow of water to pass by the root ball of the plant constantly. The greenhouses are heated from the floor up using a wood boiler that Jesse stocks with logs from tree removal services that were going to be thrown in a landfill. Both of the systems used are very sustainable, using 10% of the water that a soil farm needs with relatively no waste because all of the nutrients are sucked up and converted to food for the plants. Since the veggies are getting all of the nutrients they could possibly want, this actually leads to a quicker grow time and, Jesse says, a sweeter tasting fruit and vegetable. We got to stuff our faces with some of his kale while we were there and we totally agree!
Walking into the tomato greenhouse is like walking into the most delicious forest ever! Add in the beautiful, natural sunlight from above and we were in heaven! The Beefsteak and Piccolina cherry tomato plants that we saw can grow up to 18 feet tall! Hurricane Creek grows over 7 tomato varieties and even utilizes the suckers that are pulled off a growing plant by repotting them. One tomato plant can produce up to 20 lbs of fruit in its lifetime and with over 1000 plants Jesse will hand-pick over 400 lbs of tomatoes in a day! The great thing about hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes is that they produce fruit all year long without sacrificing taste due to a steady source of nutrients. This means that we will be able to have fresh pizza sauce all year long here at Swamp!
In addition to the tomatoes that we could go on about all day, Hurricane Creek also has freshly milled cornmeal and grits made from the heirloom corn that is also grown there in the soil. The heritage, GMO-free varieties of corn that are used are the yellow Pencil Cob and the white Trucker’s Favorite. Both varieties of corn create a super creamy consistency when cooked and can be stored at room temperature for up to a month.
Jesse is constantly experiment with new, tasty veggies and fruit to grow. In the future keep an eye out for ginger, turmeric, and bell peppers. He’s even currently in the works of building a greenhouse completely dedicated to hydroponic strawberries! Yum! Hurricane Creek also has a herd of Black Angus cattle that are free-grazing and produce delicious grass-fed beef. You might even be able to commission Jesse to make you a new piece of handmade furniture when you visit Hurricane Creek’s roadside store! We loved visiting Hurricane Creek and are so happy to have multi-talented Jesse in our #swampfarmer family!!