Fresh Simple Greens: A Year-Round Farming Marvel in Huntsville, Utah

After two-and-a-half years in business, patience and persistence are paying off for Fresh Simple Greens. Orders continue to increase — from customers who buy direct and rave about the crisp, fresh taste of their lettuce, and more recently from grocery stores, which buy their herbs. 


Farming Indoors?

Head east through Huntsville along a flat stretch of state route 39 and you’ll pass an unremarkable cluster of white shipping containers. The six 40-footers sit side-by-side and look as if they could be storage units. There’s no sign, just a small gravel parking area alongside rough pasture land. 

What’s inside may surprise you — a farm, founded by two brothers, that grows lettuce and herbs year round. It’s called Fresh Simple Greens.

Cooper Griffiths, 25, swings open the door to the container marked “2”. A sweet, floral aroma engulfs us. In the red hue of LED lights (which act as artificial sunlight), dozens of leafy bundles protrude from a wall. He flips on the overheads. Floor to ceiling panels, like bookshelves, teem with basil and stretch most of the container’s length. Three more walls, which Cooper moves with the twist of a dial, brim with lettuce and more herbs — thyme, oregano, sage, mint, and their latest experiment, chives. “If it doesn’t grow well, we’ll get rid of it,” he says. 

After two-and-a-half years in business, Cooper says, “It’s like a constant science project.” But patience and persistence are paying off. Orders continue to increase — from customers who buy direct and rave about the crisp, fresh taste of their lettuce, and more recently from grocery stores, which buy their herbs. 

The accumulation of small wins has left Cooper and his brother  Porter excited to keep charging ahead. Of course they want to grow their business, but they also want to be an example of farming that uses significantly less water and zero pesticides and provides produce (even through the winter) that’s tastier and longer-lasting. 

Starting a Business

Childhood Dreams and Pandemic Realizations

Growing up in Draper, the brothers recall daydreaming about starting their own business. But the idea for Fresh Simple Greens didn’t occur to them until 2020, when the global COVID-19 pandemic sent supply chains spinning. 

“We joined a wave of people who all started to think about where stuff comes from,” Porter, 29, said, recalling empty grocery store shelves and the run on toilet paper. If production and shipping were so easily disrupted, couldn’t it happen again? 

Around the same time, Porter’s father-in-law emailed the family a link to a video about growing microgreens indoors. Porter’s wife, who has an auto-immune disease and who’s always on the lookout for fresh, pesticide-free produce, latched onto the idea.

Cooper Griffiths, co-owner of Fresh Simple Greens, stands inside an insulated shipping container designed for hydroponic farming. The temperature is a constant 64 degrees. He harvests about 1,000 heads of lettuce every week.

The Birth and Growth of Fresh Simple Greens

“We started to think,” Porter said, “could we grow full-size vegetables?” Cooper, Porter and their dad, began a “group brainstorm” and tumbled “down a rabbit hole.” They researched and plotted for a year. By December 2021, Porter and Cooper incorporated the business. They purchased seven acres of agricultural land in Huntsville, a Mercedes-Benz sprinter van to make deliveries, and six climate-controlled containers made for indoor farming from the Boston-based company Freight Farms. According to Freight Farm’s website, one container requires a surprisingly small amount of water, about five gallons a day, and can grow the equivalent of 2.5 acres of produce.  

Having grown nothing more than a simple backyard garden and a couple trays of microgreens, Cooper and Porter dove in to learn all they could about their new hydroponic system, which uses water infused with nutrients instead of soil to grow plants.

Red and blue LED lights, which act as artificial sunlight, alternate depending on the plants’ growth stage. The lights “throw your eyes for a whirl,” Cooper says. It’s why he usually shuts them off when he’s inside working.

Learning and Overcoming Challenges

While the basics “are pretty straightforward,” Porter says, there are still dozens of variables, often minute, that affect how the lettuce and herbs grow. Slight temperature and lighting changes (which they control) and varying solutions that maintain the water’s pH and infuse essential nutrients — including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — all interact and create different results. 

The learning curve, Porter said, “has taken longer than we thought.” 

That’s been frustrating, but they feel fortunate to lean on their dad, Donald, a serial entrepreneur, whose own father founded the shave ice company Tropical Sno (Porter still works there part-time). 

“Nothing happens overnight,” their dad reminds them. 

When they harvested their first crop in the fall of 2022, it was about 137 pounds. Now they’re harvesting more than three times that, about 470 pounds a month. Cooper says his goal is to consistently harvest 550 pounds. But what variables does he need to adjust to get there?     

Constant Experimentation and Satisfaction

“That’s one of the things that keeps me up at night,” he said. This week he’s expecting a shipment of plant nutrients from a different brand. He’ll try the solution in one container and monitor leaf color and size while the plants mature, which takes about two months. 

“It’s pretty fun, satisfying work when it goes right,” Cooper said.


But as with many start-ups, things haven’t always gone right. Last year, they visited nearly 50 restaurants hoping some would want to buy their lettuce. None did. “I think our price point was too high,” Cooper said. On the other hand, they never anticipated selling to grocery stores. Now, one third of their sales come from nine stores that buy herbs, mostly basil, including Lee’s Marketplace in Ogden and Bowman’s Market in Kaysville. 

The remaining two thirds of their business comes from customers as far south as Draper who order from the Fresh Simple Greens website. 

Holly Bertram, who lives in Huntsville, buys lettuce every other week. Compared to the greens she used to buy at Costco, she says, “These are so fresh. You can definitely tell the difference.”

Feature Image: Owners, Cooper and Porter, have experimented growing an assortment of lettuce varieties. Green Oak, red tango, and sweet crisp are now staples in their salad mix. “It makes the texture more interesting,” Cooper says.

All Photos by Sam Crump.

Join our newsletter.
Stay informed.

Related Articles