Imagine: You’ve just been seated at the swankiest new rooftop restaurant in town.
And as the sun sets over the city skyline, you hear the buzz of insects dancing above vibrant, yellow zucchini blossoms. You inhale the sweet grassiness of tomato plants just inches from your table. And you watch the chef harvest fresh arugula and alpine strawberries — right before tossing them into your starter salad.
Though it may sound fantastic, this isn’t a fantasy. Restaurants like this do exist (and in greater numbers every day) in cities across the United States.
3 Remarkable Examples of Restaurant Farms
Hyper-local food sourcing, or when a restaurant grows its own ingredients, is the number one concept trend this year among restaurants. That means restaurant gardens and farms are beating out other major culinary movements, such as using natural products and following environmentally sustainable practices.
Here are three restaurant farms leading the trend.
Hamilton Farms, St. Louis
Recently featured by Food Network, Paul and Wendy Hamilton operate five restaurants in St. Louis, including Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin de Set, and PW Pizza.
And now the serial restaurateurs also operate a greenhouse of 50 Tower Gardens — among downtown streets, concrete buildings, and busy parking lots.
The Hamilton’s urban farm supplies fresh ingredients to their restaurants year-round. Last year alone, their quarter acre yielded more than 10,000 pounds of produce!
Bell Book & Candle, New York
John Mooney was one of the first chefs to grow his own ingredients with Tower Garden. He was also one of the first people to build a rooftop Tower Farm.
John’s futuristic farm grows enough produce to feed customers of Bell Book & Candle, his 80-seat restaurant, every day for 10 months out of the year. (The roof farm shuts down during the worst of the New York winter.)
Ingredients for John’s signature seasonal dishes never see the inside of a refrigerator. Instead, he harvests from a variety of greens, herbs, fruits, and vegetables as needed. And with a simple pulley system and a bucket, he lowers the freshly picked produce down six flights of stairs, from the roof to the kitchen’s back door.
O’Hare International Airport, Chicago
Though no single restaurant is responsible for managing this indoor Tower Farm, several airport eateries are benefitting from its yields.
With 26 Tower Gardens in Terminal 3, the O’Hare Urban Garden can grow up to 1,100 plants at once. The nutritious harvests go to hungry travelers eating at Tortas Frontera, Wicker Park Sushi, Wolfgang Puck, and Tuscany Café.
So next time you’re grabbing a bite to eat between flights at O’Hare, remember that some of your meal may have been grown just a few gates away.
5 Reasons Restaurants Are Going Tower-to-Table
The examples above are just a few of many.
In fact, more than 20 Los Angeles-based restaurants now grow their own ingredients with Tower Garden. And even celebrity chef Emeril sources ingredients for his Florida restaurant, Tchoup Chop, from a Tower Garden greenhouse.
Why are so many restaurants investing in Tower Garden technology? Here are a few reasons.
1. Highest-Quality Produce
The local food and farm-to-table movements have been gaining momentum for the last several years. And it’s easy to understand why — the quality of fresh, just-picked produce can’t be beaten.
When chefs grow their own ingredients only steps away from the kitchen, they ensure that each dish is full of flavor and free of pesticides and preservatives.
2. Eco-Friendly Process
Another current trend among restaurants is environmental sustainability — a goal that fits perfectly with restaurant farming.
After all, when chefs grow their ingredients (rather than buy produce that’s shipped from thousands of miles away), they reduce carbon emissions and pollution from food packaging. They also practically eliminate food waste caused by spoilage since ingredients aren’t harvested until right before they’re used.
And by growing with Tower Garden specifically, restaurants save up to 90 percent more land and water compared to conventional farms.
3. Novel Attraction
The restaurant business is a competitive one. By supporting a distinct, enhanced dining experience, onsite farms may help restaurants stand out from rivals.
Not only that, the beautiful fruits, vegetables, and herbs can double as landscaping, too — patrons get to see and smell the plants their meals are made with.
4. Reliable Source
Because they have their own secure food source, chef farmers see little impact from shortages and recalls.
And with Tower Garden — which can grow more than 150 different crops — chefs have the freedom and advantage to grow uncommon plant varieties that give their dishes a unique flair.
5. Cost-Effective Solution
Though a farm does require an initial investment, it has the potential to pay for itself many times over by reducing the restaurant’s reliance on expensive produce grown by someone else.
And per number three above, it may also attract more business, which can help offset startup costs, as well.
How Tower Garden Supports the Rise of Restaurant Farms
With so many benefits, hyper-local food sourcing may be a trend that’s here to stay. And Tower Garden makes it easier and more practical than ever before:
- Soil-free system – Using aeroponic technology, Tower Garden grows plants with water and minerals only. And that means no digging, weeding, watering, or soil-borne pests and diseases.
- Vertical design – Tower Garden can grow 20+ plants in less than three square feet. Its unique, space-saving design makes it great for rooftops, patios, balconies, or (with grow lights) even a restaurant kitchen.
- Scalable solution – Chef farmers can start small with one, three, or 12 Tower Gardens and expand their operation over time.
- High efficiency – Studies have shown that Tower Garden’s aeroponic technology grows up to 30 percent more food, three times faster — with as little as two percent of the water that soil-based methods use.
- Minimal management – With a timer and pump automating the plant feeding cycle, Tower Garden almost grows on its own, typically requiring only about 15 minutes of maintenance every week.
These advantages of Tower Garden aren’t limited to restaurants.
If you’re not a professional chef, you can still go Tower-to-Table (and even grow the same plants that chefs do) at home with your own Tower Garden. And you don’t need a green thumb, either!
Ready for your personal, hyper-local supply of fresh, healthy produce?
Over to You
Have you seen or eaten at a restaurant that grows some of its own ingredients? Please drop a comment below — we’d love to hear about your experience!
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