I am pleased to announce that New York City’s most successful and longest-running roof-to-table hydroponic rooftop farm is now in its fourth year of producing chemical-free, highly flavorful fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Chef John Mooney and partner Mick O’Sullivan feed an 80-seat restaurant with their vertical aeroponic Tower Garden® farm, which is located six stories high on the roof of a 100-year-old tenement building that was once home to only the local pigeons.
Learn more in the press release below about these innovative pioneers in the restaurant industry, and how they are changing the way local food is sourced and grown.
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC
July 2013, New York, NY–Chef John Mooney’s reputation for introducing forward-thinking culinary concepts throughout his career in the US and abroad precedes him. It is no different at Bell Book & Candle (BB&C) restaurant, where he and partner Mick O’Sullivan created New York’s first rooftop vertical aeroponic Tower Garden®, dubbed the “Garden of Earthly Delights”. They set the bar for NYC’s urban gardening scene and took it to new heights with the special Future Growing LLC vertical Aeroponic Tower Garden® system. Now in its 4th year in existence, they have harvested tons of produce from the rooftop space ranging from heirloom tomatoes to exotic red okra, and earned the Sustainability Award from Star Chefs for 2011. The system has grown to now consist of 60 vertical towers generating bountiful rewards, other than the obvious, of providing fresh food for Chef Mooney that are used in both food and beverage menu items.
Partner Mick O’Sullivan stated, “When you’re talking about real estate in Manhattan or any large city, there’s only one direction you can go and that is up. Because space is at a premium, the same philosophy applies to gardening in the city. Our self-contained, automatic-watering vertical aeroponic Tower Garden® system provides multiple benefits for us, our customers and community.” Those benefits include:
- Producing fresh, local organic, sustainable product with wellness benefits for customers;
- Cost efficiency -low production/ maintenance costs, and the end product is directly available for use;
- Heating and cooling benefits to the building and environment by harnessing and absorbing heat;
- Significantly more sustainable than conventional agriculture. Using dead rooftop space, 90% less land and up to 95% less water;
- Better space management than other urban gardens by using vertical height;
- No soil needed, roots are concealed and not exposed to pollutants and pests, and organic pest-control (good bugs eat bad bugs);
- Efficient timed nutrient delivery, all natural with no chemicals; and
- Plants grow in less time than those grown in soil.
Partners John and Mick are about to bring the system to their new Washington, DC restaurant venture, but with one significant difference: In DC, they will be using a state of the art greenhouse with an energy efficient ventilation system that works with nature, making it truly “controlled environment agriculture”.
In addition, BB&C’s gardening endeavor has connected them with their local community in several ways. For the past three years, they have hosted the first grade class from Greenwich Village’s PS 41 to help plant the lettuce in the beginning of each growing season and to learn about gardening. Chef Mooney also holds sustainability talks at Riverdale Community School for the 4th, 5th and 6th grades. Every summer, BB&C takes on an intern from various urban agricultural programs around the city.
Their use of aeroponic gardening came about from a fortuitous meeting at a farmer’s market in Orlando, Florida in 2008 with horticulturist and research scientist Tim Blank, founder & CEO of Future Growing, who introduced Mooney & O’Sullivan to the vertical system and a brand new 3-story certified green rooftop, the first of its kind in the world. Tim Blank said, “It was clear to me right away these guys ‘got it’ and saw the extraordinary potential for their restaurant venture. Chef Mooney had already had experience with traditional gardening. When Mick and John saw the ease of use in a small space, the high production rates we were getting from the technology, and then tasted the food, they were simply blown away and asked, “How soon can we do this at our restaurants? This will be a huge hit with the customers!”
In addition to being able to grow substantial amounts food vertically in a limited space, Mick and John say they love the versatility of the system. They can grow tomatoes one week, and bibb lettuce the next.
Additionally, when Hurricane Sandy came through last summer, all 60 towers were easily carried indoors. After the storm passed, they carried them back outside and were up and growing in minutes. Any standard hydroponic system would have blown away, damaging the nearby buildings and destroying the capital investment made for the restaurant.
Efforts like this emphasize Chef John & Mick’s dedication to serving the freshest food possible. “The food program at BB&C revolves around meeting consumer needs with local, organic, sustainable, and overall responsible procurement. The menu cycles are seasonal and heavily influenced on production from the aeroponic rooftop tower garden,” says Chef John Mooney. “We find inspiration in the various regions of America and focus on the contemporary aspect and eclecticism of our country’s melting pot. Our food strives for originality and individualism.”
The aeroponically-grown fresh vegetables and herbs are incorporated into dishes that change seasonally, including: Zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and wild mushrooms, with romesco sauce; house-made Burrata with wilted cherry tomatoes and rooftop basil; rooftop mixed greens; crisp pork belly and rooftop arugula with cherries, shaved fennel, and sweet onion; and grilled and roasted seasonal vegetables.
Cocktails include: BB&C Rooftop Mint Mojito with rum, rooftop mint, limes, agave, and soda; Dill With It with huckleberry vodka, strawberry, cucumber, lemon, dill, vanilla, and cava; and City Sage, buffalo trace bourbon, aperol, lime, honey, sage.
About Bell Book & Candle:
Bell Book & Candle is a West Village restaurant and bar, opened in 2010 by partners Chef John Mooney and Mick O’Sullivan in New York City. Their mission at BB&C revolves around meeting consumer needs with local, organic, sustainable and overall responsible procurement of the food on their menu. They find inspiration in the various regions of America, and focus on the contemporary aspect and eclecticism of our country’s melting pot. Chef John has worked at notable restaurants globally including Red Sage, RAKU, The Mansion at Turtle Creek, Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse, Heartbeat, and The Saddle Room in Ireland. In 2004, John was named one of the “Best Hotel Chefs” in the USA by the James Beard Foundation for his work at Heartbeat and in 2011, BB&C earned the Sustainability Award from Star Chefs for the aeroponic garden. www.bbandcnyc.com.
About Future Growing:
For the past 8 years, Future Growing® LLC has been the world leader in vertical aeroponic food farms utilizing patented Tower Garden® technology. With over 100 successful projects across North America, Future Growing® leads the way in the local food growing movement, which has become a permanent mainstream trend in the United States. The Future Growing® team, which is comprised of professional growers, horticulturists, and aeroponic experts, is led by founder and CEO Tim Blank, a hydroponics expert, global speaker, and 12-year veteran with the Walt Disney World Company. The primary business of Future Growing is not just selling a product, but more importantly creating successful urban farms, one farmer at a time. www.futuregrowing.com.