KARNACK, Texas - On FM 134 in Karnack, Texas a farm is doing things a bit different than the norm.
They are getting back to nature, while using some of the most advanced farming methods in the world.
As you drive into the farm, you see a speed limit sign warning you to slow down. That's the secret at Doodley Dee's Farm, they have.
They allow the natural growing process of foods to take place and its resulted in them growing some of the healthiest food on the plant.
Kevin Schmidt and his mother Dee Dee are the minds behind the farm.
"The family farm was started by my mother's desire to give all of her children good, clean, wholesome food," said Schmidt, as he stands in one of his two greenhouses. He's in the process of building a third.
The farm spawned after the family started growing their own vegetables.
People began asking if they could buy the produce. From there it grew.
Now their pet project turns out advanced hydroponic and aquaponic organic produce on a commercial scale.
Here's how it works.
They capture rain from the roof of a barn above the family's cabin. Schmidt says one inch of rain generates 3,400 gallons of water.
The water is stored in 10,000 gallon tanks. It's then filtered through reverse osmosis and UV rays. It's then fed into tanks full of coy fish.
Schmidt says they use coy fish because they can live up to 30 years.
The fish eat organic food. Their waste in the water becomes the nutrients and nitrates the plants need
In the fish tank room Schmidt describes the process.
"It is pumped from here through the greenhouse. And all the plants." he said. "We don't use any soil at all. It's all grown in the water."
Gravity keeps the water moving, so very little is lost to evaporation and the plants. They use just 300 to 400 gallons a day. The small amount yields amazing results.
"We are able to grow food with one-tenth of the water. 10 times as much food per-square foot.," said Schmidt. "All in a very clean healthy way."
As for its taste? Schmidt says, "It's immediately distinguishable whenever you take a bite of it."
It's why people from all over the world are visiting the farm. To learn Kevin's methods, and try and duplicate them.
"We've had people South America. All over North America [visit the farm]. Just had a group from China. Another group from China is coming out," said Schmidt.
He likes the idea of feeding the world this amazingly healthy food, but he's starting with his own backyard.
Students at Karnack ISD get a salad for lunch each day. Salad made from Schmidt's produce.
So are the salads at ISD's in Jefferson and Longview, Texas.
All of the students are eating some of the healthiest food in the world. And they don't even know it.
"It's good to know that you are getting something that a lot of schools in the area are not getting," said Karnack ISD Food Director Joe Griffin.
He says the Texas Department of Agriculture is encouraging schools to buy more local. He's happy to oblige.
Every Thursday morning the delivery is made.
"It's all beautiful produce. It's just so fresh it's unreal," said Griffin. "And it last longer. It holds up very well."
He's most proud knowing he's fueling the kids properly.
"It pleases me that I can do this for our children," added Griffin. "Their good kids."
It pleases Schmidt too.
"That makes you really, really feel good," Schmidt said. "That my mother and I came up with this idea for our own family that's helping transform the health of so many others around the community."
And that's why he's sharing the Doodley Dee's secret with anyone willing to stop by his quite farm in Karnack, Texas.
"It's really nice whenever somebody comes out and they are smiling," said Schmidt. "And they are overwhelmed. And they go, 'God, this is just fantastic!'"
If you'd like to contact Doodley Dee's Farm to visit their Facebook page.
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