Business Profile: IGS Hydroponics

By: George Alberts

Other than gold, the one thing that we believe will help our country get back on its feet is agriculture. One of the only things our nation has going for itself and could produce for the world is agricultural resources and farm goods. These are the strong roots of our country that at one point helped make us the strongest nation in the world. -National Inflation Association; Agriculture – Getting back to our “Roots”

The founder’s behind Innovative Growing Solutions, Inc. are REAL homegrown San Diegans with a mission that promotes the importance of healthy localized food. Local food is a very important economic and political movement. It’s one of the greatest protests against the crumbling economy. At a time when people want higher quality food, our elected representatives in Washington continue to accept money from the bigger agricultural corporations that are putting the smaller farms out of business, which affects the quality of food and our health. IGS is a firm, innovative business that takes a stand against commercially grown food through educating people on better ways of growing, being more sustainable, knowing what’s in your food, and the nutritional value of it as well.

Mike Dial was exposed to his first hydroponic system at a young age. During World War 2, his father was enlisted in the Navy. While in the Pacific Islands, the U.S. Government had to find a way to feed the troops because food was scarce. They introduced some very basic hydroponic systems to produce food and it was very successful. When Mike’s father returned home, he decided to buy some blueprints for a basic hydroponic system and built it successfully. As a kid, Mike didn’t realize that this new system of agriculture would stick with him and become his calling later in life.

As a teenager, he went to work on his uncle’s farm; first part-time, then full-time. He learned many things like how to live off the land by growing all your own produce, and the value of healthy nutritional food. Mike was also very mechanically skilled and could build almost anything with his hands. When he was 23-years-old, he left his uncle’s farm and got his contractor’s license (the youngest person at the time to obtain a contractor’s license) and ended up in the San Diego and Palm Springs area contracting and building houses. He was very successful until the housing and real estate market plummeted to an all time low. Mike decided to pack up and move to Oregon, where he started growing his own food, growing vast varieties of fruits and berries, and living off the fat of the land. He also liked the small communities in Oregon and how everyone helped each other, trading their different goods and produce for other items others produced on their land.

As the economy began to heal, Mike decided to move back to San Diego and back to building houses, but realized it was not his passion; and in 2003, Mike started Innovative Growing Solutions, Inc. with his friend and partner Scott. They started a small retail garden shop with the hopes of teaching people the benefits of hydroponics, and how the nutritional benefits and water saving make it the future of farming.

The more Mike dealt with hydroponics, the more intrigued and innovative he got. Through much research and testing, Mike learned a lot about the microbiology of plants and the way hydroponics affected the tissue and nutrition of the plants. And with California having a water shortage crisis, along with most of the world, hydroponics was sure to be the answer to producing food now and into the future. When looking back at his childhood, he remembers the hydroponics kit he built and how his dad told him about the hydroponic systems that fed the troops during WW2. Through researching and testing new technology, and trying new ideas, Mike was able to develop better and more efficient ways of growing through hydroponics. Mike has shared his findings and taught it to all his customers at IGS over the years.

Currently, nutritional value and water resources are becoming important topics of concern on a global scale, and worldwide people are looking for new ways to feed the masses. Mike is constantly working with individuals, introducing his ideas and theories for producing more nutritional food more efficiently while conserving water at the same time.

“This is a true sustainable movement that could benefit the people and the earth tremendously. With water becoming scarcer every day and food becoming less and less nutritional, it seemed like the perfect thing for Mike and IGS to do – create a better way of life for our children after we’re gone.” – Scott

Since they’ve been in business, IGS has been committed to giving back to the community. “There is such a lack of knowledge when it comes to this industry, and one of our main goals is to educate our customers and work together as a community to pass on this knowledge to our youth,” said Mike in our interview. “What we’re trying to do is inspire growing – locally. When I go to other cities or other communities, I want to hear them talk about my community and how it’s a leader of the best food, and has the best of everything. It’s about building a positive image for San Diego and bringing back local businesses and food. I would like to see San Diego become a self-sustaining community. Scott and I have a passion for what we do and we plan on doing everything we can to achieve this goal because for us, it’s about our community and that will ALWAYS be more important than any amount of money for us! Whether we donate equipment to schools, veterans, or someone with a passion to grow, but can’t afford the equipment, it’s all about working together and helping out. People have forgotten about fundamental, humanitarian acts and that’s another thing we’re trying to change.”

For Earth Day, on April 17th at Balboa Park, IGS will be in attendance, as they are every year, to educate, inform, and share their knowledge of agriculture with the public. They’ll be giving out hundreds of starter plants to kids that visit their booth, while supplies last of course. Also, IGS recently sent out a letter to a few schools in San Diego, offering a small 3’ wide x 4’ long hydroponic system and kit with nutrients, seed starting kit, and everything for the kids to get started and learn about growing plants. After they sent the letter out, it got passed around by teachers from school to school, and there are now 15 requests for their donations from multiple schools so far. IGS will be evaluating each request and pick about 12 or so schools to be a part of this innovative experience. Mike also wants to do a science fair they were invited to next month, but we’ll see if they’ll have enough time to prepare for the event. They’re also big supporters of veterans with a lot of programs that benefit them, and they have the awards to prove it.

“We’re always looking for ways to give back to our community,” Scott said. “We feel it’s very important that we give back to our veterans and especially to schools because they educate our generations to come. It’s important to educate students about growing healthy food. Sadly, kids these days know very little or nothing at all about where vegetables and fruit come from or how they are grown. I can remember growing my first tomato plant when I was a kid and, unfortunately, you just don’t see that anymore. We’ll build green houses and make donations of anything we can, so we can make a difference and sustain a better agricultural market.”

Their contributions are incredible gifts that enrich our children’s learning environment as well as our communities. In my opinion, I think we need to support more businesses like IGS because they promote the kind of products we need to live happy, healthier lives.  I want to end with a quote that sums up this article, any arguments about this form of growing, and the importance of high quality food:

“Before I’m gone, I want to make a difference and inspire people through teaching and demonstrating how hydroponics is a sustainable method of localized food. What people don’t understand is that it’s a science that teaches honest knowledge through research and application. It’s a source of education that focuses on environment, sustainability, and nutrition.  It’s a better option for a healthier way of life.” – Mike Dial

For more information about IGS, their products, classes or events, check out their website at  or visit their location:

Innovative Growing Solutions, Inc.
5060 Santa Fe Street
Suite D San Diego, CA 92109

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