When Jason Tidd heard Yield of Dreams was closing in Newmarket, he wanted to fill the gap for hydroponic growers in town.
That's where Tree of Life comes in.
The small franchise sells hydroponic supplies and products, with two other locations in Pickering and Bowmanville. Tidd owns the newest location, which opened this month at 559 Steven Ct., near Bayview Avenue and Mulock Drive.
The store is in the same plaza, although not the same unit where the other hydroponics store had been located for 24 years. It closed on July 28 after the owners and the business moved north to South River, Ontario.
"We thought it was a good opportunity to fill that void by coming here and offering the same products, if not more products, in this area," Tidd said.
Hydroponics is a type of gardening done in water instead of soil. This can be done in a number of ways but the key is you have to add nutrition to the mix yourself based on what you're growing. This type of growing is typically done indoors.
Tidd said the benefits of hydroponics is "the end product. It’s a cleaner, better tasting end product. You’ll notice a difference between the dirt and the hydroponics as far as flavour.”
This method is often associated with growing cannabis. When cannabis was first legalized in Canada, allowing people to grow a small number of plants in their own homes, there was an uptick in hydroponics and the demand for these kinds of products, according to Tidd.
“When it was first legalized there was definitely a bit more of an influx of interest in growing hydroponically. Since then, it has kind of plateaued but definitely, as you can see with our third store now opening, it has gained enough momentum to sustain that,” he said.
But Tidd said that's not all it is and that it can be great for growing produce, too.
“It is a huge part of the industry, a lot of growers grow cannabis hydroponically, yes. But you can grow all vegetables right through a hydroponic system,” he said.
If done properly, a family of four can grow enough produce hydroponically to sustain themselves for a winter, just with a set-up in a closet-sized space, Tidd said, adding there are a number of benefits.
“The cost of produce now and the way things are, long term you’ll have a better reward and you know what you’re growing,” he said.
Tidd personally grows all sort of products, including tomatoes, and has been into hydroponics for 12 years. He would consider himself a green thumb but said, “When it comes to gardening and growing, you’re going to fail (sometimes). You’re going to make mistakes.”
With hydroponics, there is a big learning curve but he feels it is well worth it.
“It can be challenging but it's definitely very worthwhile in the end when you get the fruits of your labour,” he said.
Tree of Life sells pre-made kits that contain everything you need to get started in hydroponics, as well as individual supplies and products like pails, attachments, and hardware to build your own system. Tidd said he is also there to answer any questions and provide advice.
“It is fairly easy but there is that learning curve. There will be failure, there will be disappointment but you have to learn from those issues that you may have and we’re here to help you and encourage you to move forward and know that we’ve been there before,” he said.