This week we spoke with Flavia Bordato of Patagonia Green Leaf (PGL). Flavia was kind enough to share how she and her family traveled from Argentina to America to built a vibrant, year round hydroponic farm.
Patagonia Green Leaf is a family business born in Bariloche (Argentine Patagonia) in 2013. PGL specializes in growing premium quality hydroponic vegetables, and selling them to supermarkets, independent points of sale and restaurants.
Keep reading to learn how Flavia learned about hydroponic farming, her best advice for new growers, and what’s next for her.
For Flavia Bordato of Patagonia Green Leaf, hydroponic growing was love at first sight. In 2005, she was on vacation with her family to Fernando de Noronha, an island in the north of Brazil. With her background of agriculture engineering, she was curious about how the community was able to keep a regular supply of fresh produce, despite having a population of only 400. She was able to meet the person in charge of supplying vegetables and tour their hydroponic farm. This was a life changing moment.
“In my agronomy career I had only studied the traditional way of farming, but never like this! For me it was like a child entering Disney!”
After returning home, Flavia immediately dedicated herself to studying the practice so she could supply her own town with fresh vegetables. At the time, she was living in the Patagonia region of Argentina in a city called San Carlos de Bariloche. Most of the year the weather was very cold. Heavy rains and a lot of snow, made it very difficult to have fresh crops. In 2013, she opened her first hydroponic farm, supplying a large part of the city.
“Patagonia Green Leaf was born as a family dream,”
Her husband has a twin brother, who is also married. The four of them are very close, but unfortunately, in Argentina, the couples lived 1,600km (1,000 miles) apart. They dreamed of living closer to each other, and even of owning a farm together. One day they decided they would make it happen. They would move to Florida and build a farm together: Patagonia Green Leaf.
Several years and thousands of miles later, their new Florida farm sells fresh produce year-round to their new community. They sell to anyone who values the excellence of hydroponic produce, but they have especially found joy in selling to local restaurants.
“We love being able to work alongside the chefs and grow various leaves that bring many colors, textures and flavors to their dishes. Likewise, they are fascinated with the durability and quality of our crops.” Currently, the farm specializes in leaf crops, with seven gourmet varieties of lettuce, arugula and various aromatics such as basil or mint, among others.
New Climate, New Challenges
The new farm is far from the frigid winters of Patagonia. “The biggest challenge we had to overcome was to beat the weather conditions we find here in the summer,” says Flavia. One of their commitments as a company was to cultivate throughout the year in order to fulfill their clients’ needs. “When summer came, people in the area told us that nobody cultivated leaf crops, but that didn’t stop us. We managed to figure out how to deal with all the adversities that the weather presented us.” Today they can truly say that they fulfill the entire year cultivating and serving their customers.
How to Get Started
For anyone interested in building a hydroponic farm like Patagonia Green Leaf, Flavia recommends working your way up. For instance, buying a smaller module to learn and experiment on. By starting by learning to grow vegetables just for your own consumption, you’ll gain the experience and attention to detail that you’ll need to master if you want to succeed at a higher level. But even before starting small, you need to do your research!
“My biggest advice is that before you start, try to do a lot of research on this technique. Visit hydroponic farms. Get in touch with people who are already cultivating in this way so that you can begin to have more real concepts of what growing hydroponically looks and feels like. “
Love What You Do
For Flavia, managing the farm is a lifestyle. She loves going into the greenhouse every day with her family and feeling the pride that comes from growing healthy food for so many people. “I really think that we are in love with the process and this makes us feel that everything we work on daily together on the farm has an incredible purpose!”
The plan to build the Florida farm started when the families were still in Argentina, so all the diagrams and schematics were drawn up together over a great distance.
Despite this, Flavia credits the AmHydro team for making everything easier.
“From the beginning we felt as if we were all part of a team trying to achieve the best version of our greenhouses with the facilities and support that amhydro provided us. Joe and Jenny have always been and are very kind to us.”
In addition to serving their local community by growing produce, Flavia’s goal is to contribute to the entire Amhydro community and to everyone who wants to dedicate themselves to sustainable agriculture development. “We must always keep in mind that what we do through this technique is make food, and we must be committed and responsible with the way we create it; growing in an environmentally friendly way. In this way we will create wonderful and sustainable projects that are good for people and our beautiful planet.”
Thank you, Flavia!
If you’re interested in learning more about Patagonia Green Leaf, you can visit them online.