How goodness gardens became a thriving GH herb business

26-06-2022    09:00   |    Greenhouse Grower

In 1980, 20-year-old Brian Murphy was earning money for college by cutting grass at a private estate owned by Ed Rosenthal. One day, Rosenthal approached Murphy and said, “I’m going to put a hydroponics research facility on my property and I wondered if you’d like to run it.”

Murphy laughs as he remembers the exchange. At the time, he had no knowledge of growing. In fact, he was planning to go to college to study information technology (IT). But Rosenthal needed help and explained to Murphy that they would be researching hydroponics. Intrigued, Murphy decided that he could always delay his IT studies and try hydroponics first.

Their research started with three greenhouses that Murphy had built himself. He didn’t realize building 12,000 square feet of greenhouses was going to be such a labor-intensive job, but he did so single-handedly. Rosenthal had invested in a project where they grew everything in 5-gallon buckets (except for lettuce, which was grown on PVC trays). Murphy invented his own tray system, which included homemade gutters to hold plants and allow for good draining; those trays are still in use today.

Although the hydroponic venture had good production in the summer, they learned that light was a problem in the winter. There were no artificial lights in the 1980s to supplement greenhouse lighting; the only light source was daylight. This was challenging in New York, where winters are long. It was a struggle they wouldn’t correct for years.

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Photo created by Zoe Schaeffer - unsplash.com


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