Texas Tech University

Ogallala Greens Grows Through the Texas Tech Accelerator Program

Kathryn Dankesreiter, Innovation Hub Team

August 16, 2021

Botanist and entrepreneur Cory Roof is dedicated to West Texas and the development of hydroponic farms.

Over the past five years in the industry, Cory worked for Cloud City farm and Plenty Farms, two of the most advanced greenhouses in world. After arriving to West Texas with an idea and the experience to accomplish his dream, Cory Roof was referred to the Innovation Hub from the College of Business Administration and was accepted into the Texas Tech Accelerator program. Cory's mission was to launch Ogallala Greens, a hydroponic farm system that caters to West Texas's agricultural needs.

Lubbock's main source of fresh water is the Ogallala Aquifer. In recent years, the aquifer has been heavily reduced from the strain of the key local industry: agriculture. Due to the dwindling resource and the arid climate of West Texas, Lubbock imports much of its produce from the Rio Grande Valley and California. Ogallala Greens aims to change that.

The hydroponic farm system launched by Roof uses up to 95% less water than traditional farming methods but still grows exceptional produce. Ogallala Greens aims to ease the pressure on the aquifer while empowering West Texas to produce its own vegetables. Not only will the hydroponic farms work to lessen the toll of the water crisis, but due to the controlled environment of these greenhouses the food produced will be more flavorful and nutritious because of the ideal growing conditions.

Ogallala Greens' produce will have a longer shelf life due to the produce being harvested locally, because the produce is locally sourced there will be a smaller carbon footprint from transportation and reduce the chances of food contamination. And if that wasn't enough, there are no pesticides used on the plants.

When asked why he chose to produce his idea, Cory responded with, "Like so many of our natural wonders, the Ogallala is under threat due to misuse and climate change. In the near future the loss of this resource will affect our agricultural community as well as West Texas' rapidly growing urban centers. Hydroponic farms like ours use up to 95% less water than traditional farming methods, allowing us to ease the pressure on our precious aquifer while growing incredibly delicious food."

Cory's background in the green industry started when he became interested in the rapidly growing technololgy of hydroponics. "I found that a company called Plenty was hiring. In December I applied for the job and was rejected. In April of the following year, I found a Craigslist add for an employment agency looking to hire for a hydroponics company in Laramie, Wyoming. 'Could it be?' I thought and applied for the job. Sure enough, this is how I got into a company that typically only hires Harvard and Standford grads. In my two and a half years at Plenty, I managed over 180 experiments in their $20 million discrete grow space. I collected stock options, flew to San Francisco regularly to consult on a mega farm called Tigris."

After several years in Wyoming, Cory set his sights on West Texas finding a community of innovators in the Innovation Hub. "I moved to West Texas with a plan to start small and begin looking for advocates. The business college directed me here [to the Innovation Hub] since I am a member of the community, and I am so glad they did. The programs here have been an incredible investment, and our mentors have helped us identify the true potential inherent in our idea."