Source: The Press Democrat, BY KEVIN MCCALLUM April 2, 2015, 3:11PM

A subsidiary of fertilizer giant Scotts Miracle-Gro announced a deal Thursday to acquire General Hydroponics, a homegrown Sonoma County company that has become a major international supplier of liquid nutrients used to grow food, flowers and indoor marijuana.

Hawthorne Gardening Co., which was created by Scotts last fall to focus on indoor and urban gardening products, said it was buying Santa Rosa-based General Hydroponics and its sister company in Marysville, Bio-Organic Solutions, which sells organic soils and other gardening supplies under the Vermicrop brand.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Plant scientist Larry Brooke, a proponent of medical marijuana, founded General Hydroponics more than 35 years ago in Sebastopol and grew it into a company with worldwide distribution and manufacturing plants in Santa Rosa, West Virginia and France. His son-in-law, Ross Haley, has run General Hydroponics and Bio-Organic Solutions since 2011.

“I wasn’t looking to make the company to sell it,” Brooke said Thursday afternoon from Florida, where the two men were vacationing with their families. “I was making a company to serve the world and my need to be part of something that was fun.”

The below video, by General Hydroponics, shows the company’s operations:

While he acknowledged the medical marijuana industry uses his company’s products, he said it has never been the company’s focus. Rather, he said his lifelong goal has been to perfect ways to grow food more efficiently on a planet whose resources are strained by an exploding population.

“However large a cannabis market may be, a fruit market is exponentially larger,” Brooke said.

It’s possible the trend toward legalization of marijuana could actually reduce the demand for the company’s products as growers move outdoors, Brooke said.

Hawthorne didn’t see value in any one particular hydroponic crop, but rather in the trend of more people looking to grow their own food, particularly in space-constrained urban environments, spokeswoman Kimberly Chisholm said.

“We are not uniformly looking at one industry and saying we’re making a bet on it,” Chisholm said.

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