We recently caught up with Kohlie Frantzen who is the founder of Helical Outpost Farms in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Originally, Kohlie is an attorney by trade, but he came into the hydroponics industry by accident nearly 7 years ago and has since become a full time grower. ohlie’s friends presented him with a business idea that intended to repatriate combat veterans through employing them with agricultural work as a way to help the soldiers transition back into society. His friends went on to explain the many benefits of hydroponics which ultimately resulted in Kohlie flying out to southern California to attend a 6 week course on hydroponic growing. Kohlie initially didn’t have much faith in the class and wasn’t expecting to get much out of it, but after learning more about traditional food production, the long term impact growing food has, and how far food travels to get to the grocery store, Kohlie decided to dive into the hydroponics industry and began working on making the business plan a reality.
Prior to setting up their first farm location in Louisiana, Kohlie had reservations about the various conditions in Louisiana that could potentially be obstacles to growing fresh produce such as the heat, bugs, high winds, and even hurricanes. Dependable equipment was going to be the key in ensuring the success of these farms that are located in areas that receive extreme weather. In addition to the external factors that could interfere with growing, there were other aspects of running a farm like getting GAP certified, food safety courses, and figuring out cold storage for produce that needed to be addressed and pinned down before more “plug and play” shipping container systems were shipped out. Once Kohlie and his team had the first greenhouse and system set up and running, they worked with Patriot Farmers of America to set up another location in Berryville, Virginia. With two farms up and running, they are now looking to expand again and bring an Outpost to another location.
Helical Outpost supplies many different locations with fresh, local produce. These locations include: Whole Foods, local restaurants, St. James Diner (a local homeless shelter), and local grocery stores. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and many of the restaurants were forced to shut down, Kohlie found himself with a lot of extra produce and was unsure what he was going to do with it. Fortunately, Second Harvest Food Bank had reached out to Kohlie and expressed interest in his produce to incorporate more fresh produce into the meals in the local food bank as well as help support local farmers during the tough times. s more restaurants begin to open and as the demand for the fresh produce Helical Outpost produces increases, Kohlie is now planning to seed accordingly to the increase in demand and is working to get his greenhouse back to full production levels as things begin to normalize.
AmHydro is excited to partner with Helical Outpost as they continue to expand and reach more communities to be able to provide them with local produce year round. You can learn more about Helical Outpost Farms and the work they are doing through their Facebook and Instagram. @helicaloutpostfarms