Thailand farms

King Tide Farms offers unusual greens

Horn

Tucked deep in the grassy lawn of the Firefly Distillery is a next-generation hydroponic farm inside a shipping container: King Tide Farms, owned and operated by longtime Charlestonian Hamilton Horne.

The near-shutdown and delay of transportation and production in the country during the pandemic made Horne aware of the condition of the products. Food shortages, a lack of transparency about where produce comes from (90% of leafy greens come from California and Arizona, according to Horne), and nutrients lost in transit prompted him to research growing. hydroponics.

Over the next two years, Horne spent countless hours studying hydroponic farms, different vegetables, and the logistics of running a farm from a shipping container, including the constraints, possibilities, and benefits for local restaurants and chefs.

Before that, Horne had never really known what he wanted to do. He worked odd jobs as a line cook at several restaurants, went to the University of Mississippi for a business degree, worked in agricultural chemical sales for three years, and as a real estate agent for more than a year. decade.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Horne said. “And I spent so many years trying to find something to do. I tried to farm oysters; tried to do a mushroom farm before it was cool… And then finally, during Covid, I was like, ‘You know, something has to change. I have to change it. I have to do it. If it’s not the time, then when is it? And then everything worked perfectly.

How exactly does a hydroponic farm work? Well for Horne, King Tide is not a traditional hydroponic farm:

“Hydroponics means grown in water, so that’s going to be the big deal,” Horne explained. “We are sort of a mix between that. We are a smart hydroponic farm inside a shipping container.

“It’s a bit of hydroponics, but it’s not completely submerged in water all the time.”

Smart farming, according to Horne, is about having complete control over the environment in the shipping container. Everything from lighting, air temperature, carbon dioxide levels, humidity, nutrients, water temperature and more is controlled by Horne. He learned this method from Freight Farms in Boston, while researching hydroponic growing methods, where he also purchased his shipping container.

Once he secured a permanent location for his shipping container at Firefly, Horne spent months perfecting a product he could support. At the end of May, King Tide Farms officially launched and sold to local businesses including newly opened Cold Shoulder Gourmet, Sushi Ninja and Red Drum, to name a few.

What grows inside King Tide’s shipping container will be different from what other local Vertical Roots hydroponic farms grow, Horne said.

“I can’t compete with Vertical Roots,” he added. “They crush it. I’d say I’m more of a salad mix guy, or more specifically, I can suggest components for your current salad mix. So that’s where I think I can have something to elevate this meal if you’re missing one last ingredient to tie your dish together.

King Tide grows vegetables you may never have tried or heard of. For example, wasabi arugula – a leaf of the plant gives that wasabi sharpness and disappears, a hit-and-run of spice on the tongue. Another is borage, a leafy, fuzzy plant that when eaten tastes exactly like a cucumber, and red vein sorrel, a plant that can add citrus flavors to any food. what a mixed salad. And for those who love the taste of cilantro, King Tide grows cilantro, which has a longer leaf and stronger flavor. Some Asian herbs are also grown in the container. Find plants like red shiso, Thai basil, and mizuna.

If you’re looking for microgreens, King Tide has them too. It offers microgreens of borage, melon, shiso, onion, kale, broccoli and more.

Summing up the whole farm, Horne said, “The best word to describe us is custom; I can harvest to measure; I can grow custom; I can change the lights here to alter the colors. I can do so many different things to modify it and I can customize any type of product you want.

Horne is open and willing to work with chefs and individuals for their specific needs.

Firefly’s location keeps King Tide hyperlocal, within 10-15 miles of most restaurants.

“I can harvest in a few hours and ship it to you. So it’s song and dance, really.

Follow King Tide Farms @kingtidefarm on Instagram or visit kingtidefarmschs.com to contact Horne for your herb needs.


Stay calm. Support city ​​paper.

city ​​paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our ongoing efforts to showcase the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a City Paper member Club.