Tag Archives: Santa Barbara

True Garden: Solving the Southwest’s Water Crisis With Innovation

True Garden’s greenhouse is located near Phoenix, Arizona.

True Garden’s greenhouse is located near Phoenix, Arizona. (Click photo to enlarge)


True Garden greenhouse

Thinking Green: True Garden’s greenhouse optimizes natural, convection-based, roof venting for energy efficient climate control. (Click photo to enlarge)

Phoenix, Arizona-based True Garden is the premier vertical aeroponic food farm in the Southwest U.S. This first-of-its-kind facility, operated by solar power, was designed in partnership with Future Growing® LLC with a vision to drastically reduce the region’s agricultural water consumption while making local, living produce available year-round in the hot desert regions of Phoenix and the Southwest US.

True Garden is the first high-tech greenhouse in the U.S. capable of producing most cool season food crops year-round—even in the scorching desert, where temperatures reach 120 degrees during the day and 90 degrees at night during summer months. The greenhouse uses very little energy in the winter months by operating in a naturally vented mode. During the hotter summer months, the greenhouse utilizes a combination of smart and efficient technologies to affordably keep the greenhouse at optimal temperatures, both during the day and night.

Future Growing co-founder Jessica Blank with True Garden co-founder Troy Albright.

Future Growing co-founder Jessica Blank with True Garden co-founder Troy Albright. (Click photo to enlarge)

As the centerpiece of its state-of-the art greenhouse, True Garden founders Lisa and Troy Albright selected Future Growing’s® vertical aeroponic Tower Garden® technology because Future Growing® has a very successful and proven track record–establishing hundreds of urban farms with its vertical aeroponic technology across the country–and the vertical tower farm is ideal for small urban settings like this one.

Utilizing Future Growing’s® aeroponic technology which re-circulates valuable water, True Garden uses 95% less water, 90% less space, and no harmful chemical, pesticides, or herbicides like Roundup®. The technology benefits urban growers and consumers alike, since the aeroponic plants grown in Tower Gardens® are more nutrient-dense than traditional produce. They grow extremely fast, and the Tower Gardens® yield “living” produce with the roots still intact. You cannot buy produce that is fresher and more hyperlocal than that.

24 day old “living” basil ready for market.

24 day old “living” basil ready for market. (Click photo to enlarge)

Understanding that the current U.S. water crisis is more serious than any other time in our history, Lisa and Troy are dedicated to implementing technologies like Future Growing’s® vertical aeroponic growing system that empower local farmers, eliminate food transportation, and use significantly less water than conventional farming. In addition to urban farming, True Garden is dedicated educating the public and empowering homeowners to grow the same way in their own back yard. Local food, living produce, tours, events, and classes at True Garden can be found at www.TrueGarden.com.

Tim Blank
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC


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California Farmer Finds Solution To The State’s Water Crisis In Local Food

Today, I would like to share with you the story of how Niels Thorlaksson, an amazing Tower Garden® farmer in Santa Barbara, transformed his life from a job that he was not passionate about to living his dream of growing food for the masses with the most energy-efficient and sustainable farming method on the planet. With the severe drought in California, more farmers are looking for similar sustainable, earth friendly growing solutions—and Tower Garden® vertical food farming technology,which uses 90 percent less water on 90 percent land, provides that chemical-free solution for feeding Americans, today and into the future.

Niels Thorlaksson’s backyard has 100 aeroponic Tower Gardens®. (Click photo to enlarge)

Here is Niels’ story, in his own words:

“My Dad, Erik, has always been an avid gardener, which started my interest in growing my own fruits and vegetables when I was just a little kid. We would plant a garden at home with tomatoes, squash, and zucchini, to name just a few. It was fun eating fresh produce that we had grown, and we enjoyed sharing our harvest with friends too. Growing up, we spent our Saturday mornings visiting the local farmers’ market. I loved trying all the cool local foods, and seeing new offerings with each season. These values of growing my own food and supporting local farmers stuck with me and are still very important to me.

For the past three years, I had been working for a large company in downtown Los Angeles. I realized that my job wasn’t who I was or what I stood for. I knew that I wanted to be involved with something that was making a bigger impact on our world, and do something I really loved. But I had no idea what it was going to be.

Niels holds a harvest of fresh Tower Garden® lettuce. (Click photo to enlarge)

This realization coincided with my introduction to the Tower Garden®. I was fascinated by the technology and loved the ability to save signficiant water, space and time while growing. My family and I decided to purchase one Tower Garden®, and we set it up next to our tomato and squash garden in the back yard.

However, I soon learned that Tower Gardens® were being used for much more than for home growers. I found out that they are being used for commercial food production to support the sustainable and local food movements. I wanted to see how it worked with my own eyes, so I went on tours of several Tower Garden® farms.

Seeing how the Tower Gardens® can directly impact people’s lives in such a positive way was the final piece of the puzzle. I helped set up several small farms in southern California, and saw that other people shared my values. This is when I decided I wanted to get involved and start a project of my own.

Land is extremely expensive in my area, so I currently have 100 Future Growing® Tower Gardens® in my own back yard. Watering grass has given way to watering food, which is grown and used locally. My part-time hobby expanded my vision and passion for local growing, in what has become a successful, full-time business.

Click photo to enlarge.

Click photo to enlarge.

I am blessed to be working with some of the top restaurants in Santa Barbara region, and my five-star produce undoubtedly keeps me in that position. I work directly with the chefs to deliver exactly what they want to see on their menus. I can grow special varieties they can’t find in farmers’ markets. When I get my orders, I can deliver them the same day, since most of the restaurants are a few minutes away from my farm in downtown Santa Barbara. In fact, I am the closest farm to downtown!

I hope our Tower Garden® farm will inspire people to change the way they think about the food they eat, where it comes from, and how it is produced. With many of the problems we are facing in the future, I believe the Tower Garden® is essential to improving the way we access our food.”

Everyone at Future Growing agrees with Niels that the vertical aeroponic Tower Garden® growing system is necessary to support the populations of today and the future. With its recirculating water system, the Tower Garden® technology saves an incredible amount of time, water, and energy and—most importantly—produces the best-tasting, sustainable produce around. I commend Niels, along with all the other Future Growing® farmers, for following their passion and building a business that not only improves their lives, but also the lives of everyone around them and the planet.

Tim Blank
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC


“Meet Your Makers”

Welcome to a “green” future, growing healthy and sustainable food with aeroponic technology! Over the past decade, Future Growing® has pioneered the vertical aeroponic farming movement across the United States. Our vertical growing technology is so modern and innovative, that it has been approved by the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED points on certified green buildings.

With more than 100 successful projects across North America, Future Growing® modular farm technologies now come in all sizes and shapes. Our Tower Garden® farms are located in a myriad of locations, from conventional commercial greenhouse structures, to skyscraper rooftops in Manhattan, to farms in airport terminals. Behind each of these successful farms is an extraordinary individual with a passion for local, sustainable food and modern agriculture.

Meet one of these extraordinary urban farmers in the “Meet Your Makers” video segment below.

Tim Blank
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC


California Entrepreneur Leads Rooftop Tower Garden® Farm To Extraordinary Success

Chapala Gardens

This week, I am re-posting a blog I shared in April, about Chapala Gardens’ rooftop farm. Since my visit this spring, Jake Kelly’s farm continues to expand and realize significant success.

This extraordinary young woman has really become an important part of the local food scene in Santa Barbara, Calif. If you live in Santa Barbara and want to buy local food, you can find Jake and her delicious, chemical-free local produce at the Sunday Farmer’s Market in Goleta from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Chapala Gardens is also open for shopping on Tuesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and on Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

For Chapala Garden’s address and directions, visit www.ChapalaGardens.com. If you live on the east coast, see Jake in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, October 17. She will be providing training on the patented Tower Garden® technology at the Tower Garden/Juice Plus Fall Leadership Conference at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, October 17 through October 19.

Chapala Gardens

Chapala Gardens’ rooftop farm in Santa Barbara, CA. Almost a ton of produce can be harvested annualy from this small rooftop. (Click photo to enlarge)

Now in its second year of operation, Chapala Gardens has been extraordinarily successful in making local, healthy, chemical-free, low-carbon footprint food readily available to its friends and neighbors in Santa Barbara.

Behind every successful “green” business is a person with a passion, and that is certainly true for 25-year-old Jake Kelly, the head grower for Chapala Gardens. Jake has been passionate about growing healthy food since she was young girl. She grew up in Waldorf Education, where farming was part of the curriculum. After she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, she went to Europe to work and learn on organic farms.

Jake Kelly

Jake Kelly holds a bouquet of lettuce.
(Click photo to enlarge)

While she was away, her parents Joy and Sandy decided to open California’s first vertical aeroponic Future Growing® rooftop farm. When she returned home, Jake immediately took on the role as head grower of Chapala Gardens and launched the thriving business.  Jake was recently nominated for Young Female Entrepreneur 2013 in Santa Barbara CA.

Now, Jake’s rooftop farm is home to 40 commercial Tower Gardens® with 44 plants per tower.

Jake’s successful business has 3 main areas of focus:

  1. Providing food for the community through the local farmers market.
  2. Leading a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm.
  3. Educating and training people how to do the same thing right in their own back yard.
Jake Kelly

Jake Kelly with freshly harvested “living” lettuce.
(Click photo to enlarge)

As a young woman with a big heart who cares about the planet and humanity, Jake is on a mission to show people that there is a solution to the environmental challenges we all face with new and innovative green technologies.

At a recent health and wellness event, Jake shared, “We are simply running out of water in California and no one knows what to do! I do know what to do, and I have a solution. I can grow an enormous amount of plants vertically on my rooftop and patio with as little as five percent of the water as the farmers up the road. I don’t use contaminated water, herbicides, or harmful chemicals. My food is nutrient-dense, clean, and free of harmful pathogens. We can all do this; it is really simple and it’s the right thing to do!”

Tim Blank
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC


Let’s All Welcome National Kale Day: October 2, 2013

Kale growing at Montecito Urban Farms

Kale power at Montecito Urban Farms, Summerland, CA. (Click photo to enlarge)

Last spring, a band of kale lovers that included Dr. Drew Ramsey, formed a team to spread the message about the benefits of kale. Kale and other farm-fresh, nutrient-dense, whole foods are arguably more available than at any time in recent history.

“Team Kale”, composed of chefs, nutritionists, doctors, farmers, food advocates, parents, health coaches, and activists, went to work building http://www.nationalkaleday.org, a site that is full of recipes, resources, and a free “Kale Hero” Toolkit.

Iron Towers Urban Farm

Iron Towers Urban Farm in Middletown, CT.
(Click photo to enlarge)

The inaugural National Kale Day was October 2, and President Barack Obama has been petitioned to officially make Kale Day the first Wednesday of each October. You can aid this effort by visiting http://www.nationalkaleday.org/petition.

Kale at Montecito Urban Farms

Kale “Tower of Power” at Montecito Urban Farms, Summerland, CA.
(Click photo to enlarge)

On this remarkable date, the “Kale Heroes” celebrated kale around the country and the world. School cafeterias, hospitals, restaurants, and farmers’ markets participated.

I had a chance to visit with Dr. Ramsey during the Google event on that day. See what the excitement was all about!

Tim Blank

Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC

El Encanto Hotel by Orient-Express Becomes the First in the Portfolio to Boast a Futuristic Vertical Aeroponic Farm

Each week, I have the privilege of sharing a new urban growing adventure that revolves around a vertical aeroponic Tower Garden® farm by Future Growing®. I am always amazed by where the adventure takes us and the new and exciting venues that will be home to one of our farms. This week is certainly no exception, as the world-renowned Orient-Express adds a Future Growing® farm to its El Encanto Hotel in Santa Barbara, California.

The Orient Express

The Orient Express

The Orient-Express story, in their words:

“There’s often more to a name than meets the eye. We’re fortunate that ours has symbolized the world’s most romantic railway journey for over a century. But today it stands for so much more.

“Since the acquisition of Venice’s Hotel Cipriani in 1976, new hotels, trains, and river cruisers worldwide have joined our collection. Many of these, such as The Ritz in Madrid, St. Petersburg’s Grand Hotel Europe, and Rio’s Copacabana Palace, are destinations in their own right.

“Beach resorts, safaris, restaurants, and luxury trains have joined the portfolio as it has expanded over the years. All have their own names and personalities and are managed by local teams who regard them as ‘their’ properties. The teams are encouraged to innovate and to contribute new ideas.”

The El Encanto Hotel truly embodies the Orient-Express vision of local management contributing new ideas and innovation at each location. In the news article below, Chef Patrice Martineau of El Encanto shares how “fresh”, “seasonal”, and “local” have become the undisputed culinary buzzwords at top temples of haute cuisine.

Tim Blank
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC


Hotel Restaurants Get to Gardening, by http://www.departures.com

Over the last few years, some hotels around the world have turned to on-site kitchen gardens, growing herbs and maybe the occasional tomato, to stay abreast of the “fresh and local” trend. But these early efforts often felt like window dressing—initiatives that didn’t affect the food all that much. You might find some homegrown basil on a caprese salad or a few microgreens atop a sous-vide heritage-breed pork loin, but it seemed like hotels continued to procure most major produce by more conventional (read: “corporate”) means.

Patrice Martineau

Chef Patrice Martineau of El Encanto, who is holding a tray of seedlings at his Tower Garden® farm.
(Click photo to enlarge)

Not any more. A handful of hotels, both new and old, have begun building more serious chef’s gardens—quasi-farms that are leading to big-picture reevaluations of restaurant concepts and top-to-bottom menu overhauls.

One of the most recent arrivals is at iconic El Encanto in Santa Barbara, California (800 Alvarado Place; 805-845-5800; http://www.elencanto.com), which reopened this spring after a seven-year, $134 million renovation by Orient-Express. Here, chef Patrice Martineau planted not one but two gardens: A traditional plot for the likes of eggplant and peppers, and a vertical Tower Garden® farm started in partnership with Montecito Urban Farms.

The Tower Garden® farm was sourced from Future Growing LLC, and is used to grow a variety of lettuces, kale, arugula, herbs, and edible flowers. On the inside of each growing tower, plant roots are suspended roots in midair, letting them soak in a natural, nutrient-rich solution that allows them to mature faster than normal. The results have turned up in a dish of Provençal-style vegetables, chilled tomato soup and lemon-basil risotto, with more planned for autumn.

Spring also saw the addition of a large garden on the park-like acreage of Il Salviatino (21 Via del Salviatino; 39-055/904-1111; http://www.salviatino.com), a three-year-old villa hotel just outside of Florence, Italy. Chef Carmine Calò—who has worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants—designed a growing space for the necessities of Italian cooking. Already the 300 plants (eggplants, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers) are producing a quarter of the vegetables used in the restaurant, whose concept Calò will adapt as the vegetation develops and expands. Fall menus will feature dishes using yellow pumpkin, black and savoy cabbages and chard. By spring 2014, Calò says he expects nearly two thirds of the restaurant’s produce to come from the garden, with new plantings of celery, carrots, spring onions, garlic and zucchini.

In the English countryside, on the pastoral border between Dorset and Northampton, the country house hotel Chewton Glen (New Forest District, New Milton; 44-14/2527-5342; http://www.chewtonglen.com) debuted an expansive chef’s kitchen garden last year, plus a newly planted orchard of some 200 trees. Overseen by an in-house, full-time gardener, the plots provide the hotel with thousands of pieces of fruits and veggies every week, including radishes, beans, ruby chard, black kale, fennel, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, herbs and edible flowers. Chef Andrew Du Bourg’s stuffed zucchini flowers were one of the most popular items on the menu this summer; this fall he’ll pair homegrown borlotti beans with a dish of braised lamb brisket and crispy sweetbreads.

Future Growing® Farmers: Changing the Local Food Movement Globally

Future Growing® farmers all over the U.S. are re-shaping the standards for local food production by utilizing vertical aeroponics and quality plant nutrition, while eliminating the use of harmful chemical pesticides and herbicides.

Check out the September issue of 805 Living below and see how two of California’s top vertical farmers are setting global trends and changing the way food will be produced on planet Earth in the future.

Tim Blank
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC

805 Living