US (WA): TEDCO’s ARR grant propels Grateful Gardener’s innovative technology in floriculture

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Floriculture is a lucrative international industry that involves the cultivation, production, and management of flowers. Tom Precht, Ph.D., and Sarah Daken, research scientist, and attorney, pivoted the hustle of climbing the corporate ladder to establishing Grateful Gardeners in 2018 – a flower farm based in Poolesville, Maryland, just inside the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve. Precht and Daken’s desire to foster change in the floral industry is evident in the foundational tenet of their business model — to grow organically, eliminating the use of herbicides and pesticides, and to be regenerative about the use of soil to ensure positive impacts on the environment and the planet.

What makes Grateful Gardeners’ business model so unique is its innovative technology system in which crops are cultivated – aquaponics. Aquaponics is a food production system that mimics a natural ecosystem; the system combines aqua-culture with hydroponics to produce nutrient-rich aqua-culture water.

“The intricacy of the aquaponics system is balancing the nutrients in the system,” Precht said. “The nuance is ensuring that the waste/nutrients produced by the fish are balanced with the correct amount of plants in the system, to ensure the plants absorb the correct number of nutrients to grow in a healthy way.”

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