Asked what distinguishes the Cultivation Station from any of the other hydroponic shops in town, assistant manager Kai Brodersen has an instant answer: “We felt we could offer something they don’t have. We have exclusive rights to CANNA, a Dutch producer of premier nutrient products.” The small, regional chain opened its Jackson Road store near the I-94 overpass in late April. He points out CANNA nutrient mixes, formulated for growing plants in specific substrates: there’s one for rock wool, coconut coir, water, and even actual dirt.

“Europe, particularly Holland,” he continues, “is light years ahead of us in soil-less gardening.” At hydroponic stores, you never know when they’re talking in code and when you’re hearing a more straightforward sales pitch. Is he referring to all the interesting botanical products Amsterdam cafes are famous for?

“No,” he counters with a level gaze, “I’m talking about things like tulips. Europe, particularly the Netherlands, has land and conservation issues. They’ve got their backs up against the wall. With so little arable land, they have to use progressive technology. Hydroponics and soil-less agriculture offer a solution. Even large commercial growers are using it to reduce their costs.

“Of course,” he goes on, “the real Holy Grail is aquaponics,” a closed system where fish feed the plants and the plants feed the fish and you can hopefully harvest some of both.

“You could do it on the moon or Mars. In fact, some day, we probably will be doing it on the moon and Mars. As we destroy this planet …” Even if you’re not buying, Brodersen gives a colorful lecture on what he believes is our dystopic future.

The Cultivation Station, 2734 Jackson Rd., 213-7740. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.