Asheville Urban farms brings the outside in – North Carolina
Sherrye Coggiola is the first female president of the Asheville Independent Restaurants. She and her husband, Anthony, are also starting Asheville Urban Farms which uses hydroponics to grow food. Photo by Erin Brethauer.
Air’s New President Has Big Plans For Indoor Hydroponic Farms
By Mackensy Lunsford
Nov 9, 2012
“We play Native American music for our plants all day,” said Anthony Coggiola, stepping into his humid hydroponic West Asheville grow room.
If “grow room” conjures up images of a nefarious nature, you’re not alone. But Asheville Urban Farms’ chief goals are ending food insecurity and supplying food for restaurants in Western North Carolina and beyond.
And the only things sprouting under Coggiola’s grow lights are edibles.
Along with Bill Muller, a “founding farmer” of Asheville Urban Farms, Anthony and Sherrye Coggiola grow food in a sprawling Amboy Road warehouse that previously housed a solar-panel manufacturer, FLS. Now filled with gurgling hydroponic systems, the 10,000-square-foot space allows for the year-round growth of more than 25,000 plants.
Growing hydroponically means going without soil, so there’s a lot of water (and organic nutrient solutions) flowing through the room — through pipes, in containers that hold rafts of tiny plant plugs and “Dutch buckets,” into which squash plants dangle their roots. Much of it is built on multilevel plant stands, vertically oriented to maximize space. And it’s all built with items easily found at a hardware store, like PVC pipes and plywood.