Restaurant connects with local farmers to grow food right next to customers
At the Hollywood location of Tender Greens, a California fast food chain that serves salads and sandwiches, diners are surrounded by next week's lunch: a forest of aeroponic towers that grow everything from lettuce and strawberries to tomatoes and bell peppers.
When the founders began researching vertical gardens, they learned about aeroponic towers that are installed, managed and serviced by a company called Green City Farms—basically, plant-filled poles. Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium.
"We can grow 44 plants per tower. In Hollywood we have 24 towers, and they're just popping with all kinds of fruits and vegetables," said Executive Chef Oliver Plust.
Once a week, the restaurant workers harvest produce from the towers and then use it in a daily special.
"It's fun for us chefs," Oliver said. "They're absolutely connected to the plants, because they've been watching them grow all week."
With the restaurant's high volumes, the towers can provide only a fraction of the food served (and, sadly, diners can't harvest their own greens to put directly in a salad), but there's room for growth in the future for both feeding and educating customers.
"This sets the occasion for us to have a conversation with our guests around the future of farming and the role that we intend to play in that," Oliver explained.
The towers are the brainchild of Green City Farms, co-founded by Niels Thorlakkson and Robert Foreman. With a joint passion for healthy eating and a shared background in business, the two decided they wanted to make a bigger impact on the world, giving back to others, while doing something they loved.
Requiring no growing medium inside the growing chamber, the towers use plant nutrients and minerals to produce a bountiful supply of produce. In addition, the water and nutrients are recycled, cutting down on water use and energy costs.
So from big salads to hearty entrees, your next meal might be growing right next to you at this innovative Hollywood restaurant!
Visit Tender Greens restaurant for more information or Green City Farms.