Charleston restaurants pride themselves on serving locally grown seasonal produce, but when you’re biting into a plump, juicy tomato in March, what gives? That’s where Kurios Farms, a hydroponic greenhouse business that grows produce using mineral nutrient solutions without soil, comes in. Run by Wes and Juanita Melling, Kurios serves more than 20 local restaurants delicious tomatoes, as well as European burpless cucumbers, buttercrunch Bibb lettuce, and parsley, from June to November. And chefs can’t get enough of their aquaculture produce. “Kurios’ heirloom variety cherry tomatoes are like candy,” says chef Graham Dailey of Peninsula Grill.
That sweet flavor is thanks to the family’s dedication to their more than 1,440 tomato plants that grow three inches per day and produce 60,000 pounds of fruit annually.
The couple, who moved from Ohio to Moncks Corner in 1985, decided to try hydroponic farming because, as Wes says, “We only had a limited amount of space.” Inside their 8,500-square-foot greenhouse, rows of tomato vines hang perfectly parallel to one another, and are fed by an automated water system. And though the produce never touches dirt, the results prove that be it raised indoors or out, nothing tastes as good as locally grown.