Blood may be thicker than water, but for Evan and Esther Premer, water is the family lifeblood.
This mother-son duo runs the Aero Farm Co., a Lakewood garden business that relies on hydroponic towers to produce roughly 150 pounds of fresh greens each week for consumption at a handful of popular Denver-area eateries.
Evan Premer is a former construction company owner and Army Reserve veteran who served one tour in Iraq as an infantryman and aviation door gunner. He came up with the idea of opening a hydroponic produce greenhouse after completing an eight-month training course with Colorado’s Veterans to Farmers program.
“I started studying tomatoes and learned all about hydroponics,” says Premer, 35. “The idea (for the Aero Farm) came about because I wanted to do something sustainable for my family.”
He enlisted his mother, a former barber and interior designer, as a business partner because of Esther’s lifelong passion for gardening and houseplants.
So what’s it like to work alongside your mom (or son) all week?
“We get along fine,” says Esther Premer, 63. “We don’t argue.”
“We both bring a lot to the table, as far as skills,” adds Evan, the eldest of Esther’s two sons. The other, Jack, is an engineer who also loves gardening.
“She brings organization, dedication, a green thumb and (plant) knowledge,” Evan Premer says of the partnership. “I’ve got mechanical skills. I also do our marketing, handle our chef relationships, and make restaurant deliveries twice a week.”
Besides growing food, the Aero Farm Co. is a Tower Garden distributor. Its current 1,500-square-foot greenhouse in Lakewood has 40 Tower Gardens, which provide 23,000 square feet of planting space. That helps the business produce enough fresh greens to service five restaurants. Eight more are on a wait list, Premer says.
The arugula, salad mixes, tomatoes and herbs are an easy sell to chefs because the plants are alive when they arrive in the kitchen, then cut from the roots only when it’s time to wash and plate them.
Evan puts up a sign as he and his mother work in their greenhouse. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)
How? The seeds germinate in a rock-wool cube that’s transplanted into the 8-foot hydroponic tower after about 10 days.
The entire process, from seed to table, takes less than a month.
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