At Tender Greens, we are constantly reevaluating our options to make sure that we are feeding our guests the healthiest, most sustainable food available. There are countless factors that go into making these choices, and we often have to get creative in order to provide top quality produce and proteins to our guests at prices that keep our food accessible to everyone while still prioritizing the health of the planet. To proactively address these concerns, Tender Greens has been investing in a variety of farming technologies that are much more space, time and water efficient than industrial farming methods.
One of our major forays into this area is our Aeroponic Tower Garden® on the patio at Tender Greens Hollywood. LA Urban Farms, produces and maintains these incredible systems, which use a technology similar to hydroponics to grow food without using any soil. Rather than keeping the plant roots constantly submerged in water as hydroponic systems do, aeroponic systems apply small doses of nutrient-rich water to the roots periodically throughout the day. The breaks in the watering regimen allow oxygen to reach the roots, which is critical to the development and vitality of the plant.
The most obvious advantage of the tower garden is our ability to get truly fresh, local produce into our kitchen. The moment a plant is harvested, its nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants begin to break down, so the faster you can get produce from the field to the plate, the healthier it is for the consumer. These compounds are also what make fresher plant foods taste so much more flavorful and complex than produce from the grocery store, which is often weeks old when it hits the shelves.
Our tower garden also directly addresses the pressing issue of California’s drought because LA Urban Farms’ aeroponic system uses up to 95% less water than field farming. The system is entirely contained, so water can be recycled through it over and over again. The tower garden also allows us to bring farming into the urban heart of Los Angeles because the system is designed to sit on top of any hardscaped surface, like concrete, and grows vertically rather than in a bed, which means ten times more food can be grown in the same amount of space. The produce grown in these towers also matures more quickly because the nutrients and water it needs are so readily available that the plants don’t have to work as hard to thrive. LA Urban Farms tailors the nutrient ratios to the particular needs of the plants being grown in each tower, which maximizes their growth and nutritional value.
The first step to helping people make healthier, more informed food choices is to reconnect them with where their food comes from. Bringing the farm into our restaurants allows us to directly connect our customers with both the people who thoughtfully grow their food and the people who lovingly turn that produce into incredible Tender Greens meals. We are so excited to invest in this technology and to support a business like LA Urban Farms—we can envision these planters at schools, in urban food deserts, and of course at Tender Greens—look for more tower gardens at locations opening in 2015!
Read more about our efforts to improve the future of sustainable farming in a recent Fast Company article: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3044958/this-hollywood-restaurant-grows-your-food-next-to-your-table
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