© Copyright 2019 by 
Carolyn M. Soto Jackson and Carolyn Marie Photography

Houston, TX

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It is noon, my phone buzzes for my fifteen-minute walk around the streets of Rice Military.  The fresh, crisp air is perfect for a mid-day stroll. At the corner of Feagan and Birdsall, I decide to take a right rather than my usual straight away. Coming up on Malone Street, I see numerous white cylindrical posts tucked inside a freshly designed, brown wooden fence. Instantly intrigued, I walk closer and I begin to see plants I am certain are fresh greens but the sweet smell of mint is what lures me in. This is quite an unusual destination inside our residential area but, there are rows and rows of various greens growing out from these white cylinders. Walking closer, weary of any alarms or dogs, I hear a quiet noise, the subtle sound of water. Having searched for the way in, I found myself peeking through the fence of 408 Malone Street.

 

I began pointing my finger at each of the greens, “romaine, kale, mint, basil”. I was beside myself. “Is this a garden?” It certainly does not smell like mulch, nor are there any rows of dirt, but it must be.

 

As any normal Houstonian, under the age of forty would do, I googled it. There it was, an immediate retrieval, “Space City Farm”. Right before my eyes, one street over laid a beautiful garden full of fresh greens. In awe, I continued to sneak a peek around the fence, seeing all different types of plants I could not identify. Glancing at my watch, 2 minutes remained until I had to be back at work. Time simply flew by while drooling over these fresh crops.

Upon arrival back at work, I instantly went online and pressed the infamous “Like” button for Space City Farms and contacted the owner, who I now know as Gary Maltz.

Mr. Maltz answered his phone and with a chipper voice, instantly welcoming me for a personal walk through his garden. Unbeknownst to me, this would be a start of an unimaginable interview.

 

I practically ran out of work to meet Mr. Maltz at five o’clock. Upon arrival, I could see the excitement coming over Gary, like a child in a candy store, or maybe not.

Gary Maltz and his family have been growing since November 2015 with passion and poise. His family owned and operated the small business independently. Gary explained he and his family acquired twenty towers, which holds forty-four slots per tower, each of which serves as a home to delicious produce to- be. His towers flourished with butter crisp lettuce, toscano kale, summer crisp Cherokee, three types of mint and basil, romaine, and cilantro, not to mentioned other fresh herbs. Every single herb and lettuce they provide are hand raised from seedlings, taking a whopping five weeks from seed to table.

 

The secret art of their farm is within the seedlings, which are planted in a volcanic spun material called, “rock wool”. The seedlings continue to grow under lights for two weeks then are carefully transferred to a tower garden. You read that correctly, these gorgeous plants are not raised in dirt. This produce is grown by a timed recirculating water system, called Aeroponic Technology, giving each plant a consistent twelve-minute interval of nutrients. Not only do the towers pump water up but as gravity sets forth, cascades down to feed and aerate each of the forty-four slots.  The tower system creates the ability to harvest living lettuce with the roots still attached which allows for the lettuce to be handpicked at their particular ripeness. This benefit allows for proper nutrient dense produce. There are no chemicals, pesticides and are tested for proper pH balances, therefore surpassing conventional gardening by fifty percent.

 

As Gary guided me thought his garden, his words resonated in my ears, “Food changed my life.”  

 

His remarkable testimony embodies the ability to reduce and essentially discontinue the prescription medication for his Attention Deficit Disorder, all by merely changing his eating habits. Gary dreaded the high doses, and severe side effects all the while the FARMacy had much more to offer. Not only was Gary able to reverse these residual effects, but he also had the privilege to share the wisdom and knowledge he gained along the way. Gary and his family have taken it upon themselves to face a major problem of today, a serious decline in nutritional content in foods. This epidemic must come to a halt and Space City Farm is coming in with heavy artillery, kale of course.

 

Slightly annoyed, Gary exclaims, “Produce trucks are bringing green bananas and they are sitting on the truck for a minimum of one thousand miles. Can you imagine how green they are when they picked them?”

 

I felt my nose crinkle up with the mere thought of his confident statement.

 

Gary gave me a minute to let me soak it all in. He must have enjoyed the sight of someone adoring his nursery. I could hardly contain myself as I gathered a bunch of mint in my hands only to bring them to my nose. I inhaled the pure and raw sweetness and I ran my finger over the rigid veins all the way to the tip. Leaves upon leaves, growing high and low filled his yard.

 

The sun began to set so I gathered my handfuls of freshly picked harvest and began to part ways. Gary smiled ear to ear, waving me goodbye but I knew good and well this would not be the last visit and certainly only the very beginning for Space City Farm.

 

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