Home Grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs always sound more delicious, cheaper and environmentally friendly. Take it to a large scale atmosphere like in a public restaurant and that makes it a fantastic idea. A front page picture in the Tampa Tribune recently showed me exactly how possible and workable this really is, not just for show and tell. It is possible to make a closer gap between the farm and the table. The idea was developed by Dave Smiles of Uriah’s Urban farms, he prefers to be called Farmer Dave. He developed the idea of providing their own greens and herbs within restaurant vicinity. Whether inside or on the rooftop, it promises a reduction in the waste of overbuying, a cut in costs, and the ability to grow specialized ingredients thus using fresher herbs and vegetables.
Depending on the type and size of the restaurant business, there are options to growing your own produce. Rooftops especially in favorable climate locations make really convenient herb gardens. When money and space are not a concern, indoor rooms can be converted into garden rooms consisting of vertical panels to create produce and herb supply. Earth Boxes have become very popular in homes and restaurants. An Earth Box is a maintenance-free growing system which controls soil conditions, eliminates guesswork, and more than doubles the yield of a conventional garden using less water, less fertilizer and virtually no effort. This is ideal for urban garden settings, since its compact and easily movable and portable. All these ideas pretty much have the same result and the environment benefits due to less transportation of food products and less of the earth being harvested for our food consumption. The technology that Smiles has developed started out as more decorative but then became productive as well.
The concept used in local restaurants in the Tampa Bay Area was previously used mainly just for show, but now serves both purposes. The method consists of 8-foot-tall metal panels with a grid system in which seedlings are planted then irrigated. Dripping water in a regulated sprinkler from the top of the panels, the moisture finds its way through gravity to the bottom of the growing squares. Different from a horizontal farm, water stays in the artificial vertical ecosystem, moving down into other plants. Artificial lamps on a motorized track move back and for the in front of the panels to provide the light each plant needs in order to grow. A new grid of plants is rotated usually about twice a week, each panel provides approximately two pounds of produce. There is a cost in the maintenance but the advantage of freshness and keeping our environment safe.
At the Pelagia Trattoria restaurant inside the Renaissance Tampa International Hotel, a 30-foot square screened growing house was built on the hotel’s roof, it also contains a vertical growing system installed by Urban Oasis Farm in Tampa. It is a hydroponic garden oasis. The hotel also grows herbs in containers in the patio downstairs, a good example of earth boxes. The larger operation on the rooftop makes more economic sense. For example, the kitchen alone spends $30,000 a year on lettuce, by using an easy way that is less labor intensive, romaine lettuce can be grown and reach harvest within 26 days, it saves so much money. The main goal is to be kind to the environment by using local products. Tasty and Fresh make for good business practice and profitable for the business owners.