By John Showalter
photo by Logan Macrae
Anyone who lives in the Fargo-Moorhead area knows that its yearly weather is a sequence of extremes. It feels like more often than not, springs and autumns are barely there while summers drag on with oppressive heat and stifling humidity and winters with bitter cold and copious amounts of snow. The ideal window for those with green thumbs to tend their gardens can be very small indeed.
Of course, owning a fully operational greenhouse is off the table for most people. Compared to that option, hydroponics is far more financially approachable. Roots Hydroponics, recently founded by owner Logan Macrae in Moorhead, seeks to provide the information and supplies for enterprising gardeners to begin practicing hydroponics themselves.
First of all, what are hydroponics? According to Macrae, it is a blanket term for growing plants indoors using a soilless medium. Not only does this refer to growing plants with their roots suspended in water, but also plants that are grown with the roots in substrates like peat and shredded coco fibers. Roots provides the equipment and materials necessary for the latter method, as the former is more costly and difficult.
Why not just use good old-fashioned pots and soil? “You know exactly what will go into your plants,” said Macrae. The nutritional value of soil is depleted over time. A classic example in farming is the practice of crop rotation. Corn is notorious for draining nitrogen out of the soil, so farmers will plant a different crop such as soybeans in the same plot the next year in order to sequester nitrogen back into the soil, then switch off again the year after that. This sort of practice is unnecessary with hydroponics, as it uses water-based mineral nutrient solutions.
Hydroponics also allows practitioners to not be limited by the climate where they live, as mentioned earlier. With a traditional outdoor garden, a prospective gardener will likely only complete one growth cycle with their plants before the weather becomes inhospitable again. With even a simple hydroponics setup, plants can accomplish several growth cycles over the course of a year. No doubt this is the reason for Roots’ motto, “We help you grow, even when there’s snow.”
Along with various brands of nutrients, differing hydroponics mediums, pots and trays, pH testers, etc., Roots also sells AC Infinity hydroponics tents. A tent (which includes a filter, a circulatory fan, a light, and a timer) costs under $600 and can be kept outside or easily fit indoors. Any number of crops can be grown in this setup, from the nasturtiums and tomatoes that the store has growing in it as a proof of concept, to microgreens and herbs. These aren’t Macrae’s primary focus however. The purpose of Roots is “primarily to support the cannabis industry,” said Macrae. “It’s the new beer brewing.”
Recently, Minnesota legalized the growth and recreational usage of cannabis. However, outside of two recreational dispensaries located on tribal land, most businesses are not expected to start selling it until 2025 as the state sets up a licensing and regulatory system. A hydroponics garden allows someone to produce their own cannabis and exercise a large degree of self-sufficiency. This is the case for both medicinal and recreational usage. “It allows people to be self-sufficient with their medical system,” said Macrae. In fact, he has been cultivating his own medicinal strain to help with his neuropathy.
“We have lots of up-and-coming growers in the area,” said Macrae, and he hopes that his business can play a part in removing the stigma surrounding cannabis use by helping create a sense of community. “If you give a man some smoke, he smokes for a day. If you teach a man to grow his own, he smokes for a lifetime,” quipped Macrae. Roots even has an in-store event every Saturday at 10:30 AM called “Cannabis and Coffee” and plans to start classes about hydroponics this month.
Prior to starting Roots, Macrae graduated with a Bachelor of University Studies focused in art photography and media management from NDSU. He applied his skills to a laundry list of jobs, from ad sales at the High Plains Reader, to professional photography, to creating multimedia content for Hot Springs Spas and Pool Tables, to name a few.
He puts those skills to practice now managing the internet and social media presence for Roots. It was only a matter of time before he owned his own business. “I was bred into it,” said Macrae. His grandfather owned a service station called Marv’s 7th Street Standard for 37 years, and he regularly helped his grandmother with the bookkeeping when growing up.
Roots started planting in June, and recently opened, on September 8th. For more information, you can visit their site at www.rootshydromn.com and follow them on all major social media platforms.
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