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Montana Made: Swanky Roots

Posted: 6:02 PM, Dec 11, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-11 23:33:25-05

BILLINGS – Things are looking green in the Swanky Roots greenhouse on Story Road.

The business has a deep-rooted family connection and offers up leafy greens year round.

“My mom’s maiden name is actually Swanke, and when we were starting to talk about this she came up with the idea of Swanky Roots. Her maiden name is spelled with an ‘e’, so we just decided to change it to the ‘y’ to kind of match the fancier version of the word that people are used to seeing,” said Veronnaka Evenson, Swanky Roots owner.

Upon the rows and rows of greens, it’s what’s happening beneath the surface that makes the greenhouse so impressive.

“We grow aquaponically, meaning that we have fish in our system. They’re what drive the system and provide nutrients,” Evenson said.

Those nutrients eliminate any need for chemicals or soil. Microbes convert fish waste to fertilizer, and the plants take what they need, returning clean water to the fish.

“We have eight 1,200 gallon tanks. And they have about 1,000 fish in each of them. So we’ve got, with our nursery system as well, almost 10,000 fish in here,” Evenson said.

As more time goes by, the system strengthens.

“Those roots aren’t very big. They don’t have to spread all over trying to get everything, because everything is just floating by them. It’s kind of cool to see the difference from the first ones with long roots, and they just keep getting stronger, and stronger,” said Ronna Klamert, Evenson’s mother and Swanky Roots co-owner.

The system operates around the clock, producing lettuces, kale, tomatoes, and even edible flowers.

“Even though growing year-round in Montana seems a little bit crazy, we decided that it would be worth it and that Billings really needed something like this,” Evenson said.

With a degree in plant science and agriculture, along with some encouragement from mom, the two decided establishing Swanky Roots would be their next big move.

“What’s better than homegrown? I mean, I love Montana. I’ve been other places, I don’t ever want to go anywhere, and so to have this right here, and to know we can have healthy, fresh, is an awesome thing,” Klamert said.

Their greens can be found in local restaurants, but are also available to purchase at the Swanky Roots greenhouse located at 8333 Story Road in Billings.

Click here to visit the company’s website.

Reporting by Victoria Hill for MTN News