There’s lettuce in that dorm room

Freshmen Zack Conley and Jeff Diener grow and sell lettuce from underneath a bed in their Virginia-Snyder dorm room.

Conley proposed the business idea to his roommate early this semester.

“He was like, ‘You know what we should do? We should try and grow that,’” Diener said. “And I was like, ‘Absolutely we should.’”

Conley’s family in Georgia buys hydroponic lettuce that they believe is better than conventional lettuce. The two business majors ran with the idea and started their own project, Second Floor Farms.

“It’s really good lettuce. It’s really crisp,” Conley said about the hydroponic lettuce.

The two gathered research online and from a hydroponic store. They found that growing lettuce hydroponically uses less water, can be done without natural sunlight and does not use pesticides.

They place seeds inside a grow cube for several days, and then move them to a large tub of water with light above it. The entire process happens completely under Conley’s lofted bed, which has reflective screening draped around the sides.

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Diener and Conley grow the lettuce right under a lofted bed. Photo credit: Nathan Baldwin

Conley and Diener then simply wait for the seeds to grow into lettuce.

“We just sit back and watch, honestly,” Diener said.

A couple weeks later, the two freshmen have lettuce to sell. Through word of mouth and their Twitter account (@HydroLettuce), the business is gaining attention.

“People who I’ve never even talked to before somehow know about this now,” Diener said.

Diener estimated that they sell eight heads of lettuce per month, although he declined to give the price per head. Currently the majority of their customers are friends and family. Their business is currently limited though because of their lack of space.

“We only have one bed that we can grow under because the other one has a futon underneath,” Diener said.

Their customers are pleased with the finished product. Sophomore Ronnie Garcia said the lettuce “tastes way fresher than the stuff you buy at the store.”

Conley and Diener believe Second Floor Farms is steadily growing (no pun intended) and making customers happy.

Diener said that the “smiles on customers’ faces” are what gives him satisfaction beyond just business.

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