White House honors Encinitas farmer


The founder and CEO of an Encinitas-based firm that grows produce inside climate-controlled greenhouses without soil was among 15 people honored July 29 by the White House and the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

Pierre Sleiman is among the “Champions of Change’’ who were recognized for doing extraordinary things to assist the next generation of farmers and ranchers, according to the White House.

More than two years ago, Sleiman started Go Green Agriculture, a hydroponic farm on the Leichtag Foundation Ranch.

Crops in Go Green’s 3-acre greenhouse grow in trays a few feet off the ground.

The roots are nourished by nutrient-rich water funneled through plastic channels. Since it’s a closed loop, water that isn’t absorbed is recycled back into the system.

Without runoff, Go Green uses 85 percent less water than the average farm.

Because grocery store orders are picking up, Go Green is building another greenhouse next to its current one. Sleiman told the Encinitas Advocate in an interview last month that he’s excited to expand.

“Experimenting with growing techniques started about a block away on a small plot,” Sleiman said of his early foray into farming. “Getting to build a world-class facility is amazing.”

Sleiman is a member of the board of directors of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and business from UC Riverside and a master’s degree in business from UC San Diego.

In addition to innovative growing techniques, Sleiman drew upon his computer science background to develop an iPad program so employees can easily adjust the temperature and humidity in the greenhouse for ideal growing conditions.

The Champions of Change program was created by the Obama administration as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

— City News Service contributed to this article.