Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Growing indoors all winter long... in Colorado??

Ever since the first time I saw one of these systems, I thought, "yes, one day you will have one of
those."  The day has arrived.

That first time was three years ago, when the Juice Plus Company first released The Tower Garden® as their newest product of their short list of healthy living items, and a friend came in to the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's monthly meeting to show it off.  It wasn't just me. Everyone in the room went, "oooooh," "ahhhhh." Granted, this was a warm audience - a room packed with gardeners, local-foodies, and health nuts - but we oooh'd none the less.

For lack of space in our previous quaint home, we held off even though the Tower Garden takes up a total of maybe six square feet.  But as soon as we moved into our new home in December I knew, come fall, we'd be putting together our first Tower Garden®.  And we just did.

Let me backtrack a little; we love to garden.  As soon as the snow melted this year we began working on our three garden beds in our new yard, and all summer long we grew a lush supply of herbs, lettuces, squash, carrots, beets, beans, and more.  Despite our high mountain short growing season (50-70 days if we're lucky), Craig and I have been gardening together for nearly five years.  We love knowing where our food comes from, love putting the effort into it, and love the health it brings us. And we are set to build a greenhouse before the snow flies if possible so that we can extend that short season even longer. So we won't discontinue our outdoor crops, but supplementing them through winter is going to be splendid.

The Tower Garden® is a miracle in itself. Developed by Tim Blank, a native farmer turned inventor thanks to an inspiring trip to The Land in Disney's Epcot, the system is an aeroponic vertical grow tower that uses no dirt, 10% of the water that traditional gardening uses, and grows plants in 1/3 of the time.  Blank has been working around the clock on getting the Tower Garden® out into the world since its release, and his biggest boasts are a Tower Garden® farm atop a New York restaurant and one in the O'Hare Airport.  The 5-tiered system can be extended as far up as you have space and water-pump to go, and make the most of a small interior space because of that vertical design.

But it's great for a family, couple, or individual too.  The system is extremely easy to set up, comes with every part needed and more accessories optional if you desire, and has a timer system so you can even leave your Tower Garden® for days without worrying about watering it while you're gone. It's a great learning system for children, from planting seeds to naming plants to harvesting their fruit, schools around the country are adopting this easy system to educate with as well as even supply some food for the lunchroom. Our own Steamboat Springs Middle School has two of them.

Personally, I'm so excited for not only our own Tower Garden®, but for what's going on at our local Ski Area, too.  My dear friend Liz who is Food and Beverage Director for Steamboat Ski Area is into gardening as much as I am, and she supports local food and growing your own whenever she can. Liz got just as excited about the Tower Garden® as I did and is now the proud owner of three of them for her on-mountain restaurants - the harvests will be integrated into their food system as soon as the ski area opens at the end of next month.  Watching these grow will be just as fun as watching ours, knowing that extended reach this learning and growing tool will make in our community and all those that visit here.

This is just the beginning!