It’s a setup that’s usually associated with a different kind of green plant.
Located in a boat condo toward Auke Bay, the doors to the grow room at Juneau Greens open to reveal a room filled with bright white light and small green plants softly swaying in the artificial breeze. Trevor Kirchhoff, one of the owners of Juneau Greens, says the hydroponic process here is very similar to growing marijuana but the plants are a little different.
“They are the same lights that everyone uses to grow weed,” Kirchhoff said, “except we cut the power in half and dim it down by 40 percent, and then we grow lettuce with them.”
This production, co-run by John Krapkek, started off with them growing basil. Kirchhoff had a very similar system set up a couple years ago that also grew basil indoors, but this is on a much larger scale. The room is half basil and half lettuce, with four different varieties of lettuce.
Starting in August, they’ve been selling their products to IGA stores and a couple local restaurants. The feedback has been good so far, Kirchhoff said, that the basil they’ve supplied to IGA is of better quality and similar price to the basil that comes from down south.
“Freshness and quality are the most important things,” Kirchhoff said.
Kirchhoff runs a garden supplies company called Get Growing in town, which focuses on hydroponics. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without soil, often indoors and adding nutrients to the dirt that the plants are growing in. Get Growing helps supply marijuana growers such as Rainforest Farms and Fireweed Factory.
Kirchhoff and Krapkek reworked the design of the system, and Kirchhoff believes this particular system is very distinctive, from the way they diminished the power in the lights to the specific way the lights are mounted. The whole system is renewable, from the water that nourishes the plants to the nutrients added to the dirt.
This isn’t the primary job for either Kirchhoff or Krapkek, but is more of a hobby. Kirchhoff designed most of the system, while Krapkek did much of the installation and cultivating. They’re content with their setup at the moment, but they have room in their boat condo to expand if demand rises.
They began growing basil, as Kirchhoff said, because they knew they could make some decent money off it. They’re content with just basil and lettuce at the moment, especially with how easy the growing process is.
“The whole system is super low-maintenance,” Kirchhoff said. “Basically we wanted to minimize everything that you have to do to process the whole plants.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or email@example.com.