Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Go Green Agriculture Inc.

Vilsack_4-18-2013 084, Go Green Agriculture
Go Green Agriculture founder and CEO Pierre Sleiman Jr. (front center) talks with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack (front right), who visited the hydroponic vegetable operation in April 2013.
Photo courtesy of Go Green Agriculture

This is one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles. Click to read about Altman Plants, High Meadows Farm and Peace Tree Farm.

Go Green Agriculture Inc. in Encinitas, Calif., got its start as a project in Pierre Sleiman Jr’s computer science class at the University of California-Riverside. Sleiman, who is the company’s founder and CEO, was learning about innovative models of organizing high tech businesses.

“I happened to think about taking a high tech way of doing things and applying it to the furthest removed industry that I could think of — and I thought of agriculture,” Sleiman says. “That led to an interest in greenhouses and hydroponics.”

Sleiman’s family has no background or roots in agriculture. His undergraduate degree is in computer science and my master’s is in business.

“My business model was to have a greenhouse vegetable operation in or near every major city across the country. San Diego was the starting point because this is my hometown.

When Sleiman graduated in 2009 he believed he had a great idea but no money to get started. He first approached family who provided him with the initial capital to put together a small pilot plant unit to demonstrate to potential investors what could actually be done.

At the time that Sleiman was doing his graduate studies at the University of California-San Diego, the Leichtag Foundation bought the 67-acre Ecke Ranch in Encinitas.

“The Leichtag Foundation is a supporter of UC-San Diego,” Sleiman says. “The foundation was looking for innovative tenants to use the Ecke facilities. The foundation contacted the San Diego County Farm Bureau director who mentioned me to the foundation. When I got together with foundation CEO Jim Farley both of our interests were extremely aligned. The foundation was looking for innovative growers of organic food and that was what we were doing. We were looking for organizations and people to support the project and to give us a platform to build on.

We were the first company to come onto the Ecke Ranch after the foundation’s acquisition and it has been a wonderful partnership ever since.”

Learning The Ropes

DSC_1153, Go Green Agriculture
Go Green Agriculture is growing organic lettuce, spinach and kale and recently added basil and arugula. The company is currently doing research and development on several other crops.
Photo courtesy of Go Green Agriculture

Sleiman said when he started the business he had to prove to himself that he could actually produce organic hydroponic greenhouse crops. For the first year everything that was grown was donated to the local food bank, which enabled him to perfect the production system he was trying to set up.

“Part of my business plan was not to jump into the market immediately until I knew that I would be able to supply a steady, consistent, quality product,” he says. “During the first year I lost many crops as I tried to perfect the production methods. In 2010 I went after my first customer and it was a real challenge because we were a new company and people wanted to be sure we were going to be around for a while and I was someone that they could trust. It took knocking on a lot of doors and slowly but surely building our reputation as a reliable business.”

Sleiman currently has about 3 acres of production at the Ecke Ranch including a packing house. He is in the process of adding another 2 acres of new greenhouses.

Go Green is organically growing lettuce, spinach and kale, basil and arugula, and the business is currently doing research and development on several more crops.

“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel or compete against established large growers who are already doing a great job producing commodity items including tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. We picked crops that are unique especially as we expand our production facilities eastward across the country,” he says. “I want to be able to grow these crops locally where otherwise they would have to be shipped in.”

Expansion Plans

Go Green Agriculture’s five-year plan is to double in production area every year.

“From that point forward it won’t be as doable to keep doubling in size,” Sleiman says. “We would like to get as close as we can to double digit growth every year after that. This year we hit our target by adding the new greenhouses.

“Once we have the infrastructure in place we would like to set up a franchise-like model. That would enable us to expand in-house, but we could also enable other growers to come under our wing and use our production system, marketing, label, packaging and distribution channels.”

Sleiman says the company is already considering other locations across the country including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, Texas and other East Coast cities.

“Our model is to be in every urban developed area,” he says. “The question isn’t so much about the competition because there is going to be competition wherever we go right now. It’s really about having a unique value that we can offer to consumers. What we do that is unique is deliver a superior, quality product within hours of harvesting, year-round. We think that model is sustainable, viable and will work across the country.”

For more information contact Go Green Agriculture Inc., 760-634-2506 or visit the Go Green Agriculture website.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Vegetables...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories

November 24, 2014

Root Crops And Plug Trays: A Perfect Match

Growing a plant to maturity in plug trays might be foreign to ornamental growers, but with a little help from plug tray manufacturers and breeders, there is little to hold growers back in this root crop category.

Read More

November 14, 2014

First Vegetatively Propagated All-America Selections (A…

All-America Selections (AAS) honors two vegetatively propagated impatiens with AAS winner status.

Read More

October 8, 2014

Gotham Greens To Build Rooftop Farm In Chicago

Gotham Greens announced October 7 that it has partnered with Method Products, an eco-friendly cleaning product company - to build what they are calling the "world's largest rooftop farm" at Method's new manufacturing plant in the Pullman neighborhood, on Chicago's south side.

Read More

August 19, 2014

A Look Ahead At Food Safety For Commercial Greenhouse V…

If you grow food in your greenhouse that is sold for consumption, food safety regulations will affect you. Here is a recap of Debbie Hamrick’s (North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation) Cultivate'14 presentation on food safety for commercial greenhouse vegetable production.

Read More

July 22, 2014

Bright Farms Launches Crowdfunding Campaign To Build Ur…

Urban farming pioneer Bright Farms is attempting to crowdfund what it hopes will be the "world's most productive urban farm," in Washington, D.C.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Go Green Agriculture In…

Read about how Go Green Agriculture Inc. took its business from the classroom to commercial reality in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Peace Tree Farm

Interest and response to Peace Tree Farm’s annuals and foliage plants continues to increase, but herb and vegetable starter plants is where the company makes its money. Read about it in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: High Meadows Farm

Grants brought opportunities for High Meadows Farm to start growing raspberries and tomatoes. Read about it in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Altman Plants

Read about Altman Plants' venture into greenhouse vegetable production in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 15, 2014

Cultivate’14: Vegetable Production Tour Highlight…

Check out photos from Greenhouse Grower's visit to CropKing Inc.'s research greenhouses as part of he vegetable production tour at Cultivate'14.

Read More

July 8, 2014

Veterans Are Well-Suited For Grower Jobs, And AgVets Is…

AgVets is breaking ground this summer with the first of up to 30 hydroponic greenhouse operations located throughout the country to provide produce to lower- and middle-income consumers.

Read More

June 27, 2014

Growing Beyond New York, Gotham Greens Is Developing Pr…

Gotham Greens is considering the potential for partnering with growers for new ventures in cities across the U.S.

Read More

June 27, 2014

Gotham Greens Takes Locally Grown Produce To A Whole Ne…

Gotham Greens broke the boundaries of agriculture by building the country’s first commercial-scale rooftop greenhouse operation in Brooklyn, N.Y. Now it’s taking that vision further with two more locations and contracts to build in more cities.

Read More

June 25, 2014

New Trends, New Crops Offer New Possibilities For Edibl…

New small-space vegetables, container trends and flower/vegetable groupings contribute to a resurgence of interest in growing edibles.

Read More

April 11, 2014

Eight Standout Vegetables From Spring Trials [Slideshow…

Reflecting the consumers' passion for growing food, a number of breeders introduced attractive and flavorful vegetable varieties. Here are a few of my favorites.

Read More

April 10, 2014

Syngenta Opens Application Period For Grow More Vegetab…

The Syngenta Grow More Vegetables Seed Grant Program supports schools and community organizations interested in establishing or enhancing garden programs. Applications are now being accepted for 2014.

Read More

April 10, 2014

Managing Organic Food Waste In Your Business

The single largest component of the nation’s waste stream by weight is food waste. Here is what you need to consider before implementing a food waste collection system at your business.

Read More

April 10, 2014

Vegetalis Is Working To Make Growing Vegetables Easy Fo…

For the past four years, Vegetalis has presented container vegetable crops at Spring Trials, and while growers and retailers have been excited about Vegetalis’ offerings, there haven’t been enough sales. So this year, the company is working on a few new marketing concepts to bring Vegetalis’ considerable number of container veggies to retailers nationwide.

Read More