Its rare to see your total vision brought to reality!
I am so thankful for the opportunity to physically see something that only existed in my head for a long time. This week was one that got me out of the office and around town here in Saint Louis to visit several living wall project sites.
My week started out with a visit to the Urban Harvest STL foodroof farm on a downtown rooftop.
I met their new director and all of the foodroof farm team for an educational and idea sharing session. The back drop was one of Verdant Technologies, VerTexx vertical living walls and it was a productive beauty. The team had it planted up with early season greens of many types, which were thriving vertically and creating so much food in so little space (normally un-used space) for plant production.
The mission of urban harvest is one that I greatly respect and I’m proud to participate in as we do. They are trying to eliminate food deserts in our region and it always surprises me how many food deserts, by definition, we have here in St. Louis. There is so much need for quality food available to those that have few to no options nearby. Saint Louis is similar to a lot of large urban areas in this regard and we are fortunate to have non-profits such as Urban Harvest to push the envelope and show us what can be done, while leading the way to end food inequality.
My next stop was the Missouri Botanical Garden to take a look at the existing and new walls in the Kemper Home Gardening Area.
I have been working with the botanical garden for the last few years and it’s so great to see their genius and creativity coupled with the complete scientific mastery of growing all types of plants. The area in which our walls are on display, is the Kemper center for home gardening and if you live in St. Louis, it’s the most incredible place to just walk through and see what’s possible in terms of making a garden productive, nutritious and gorgeous at the same time. We are so proud to be part of their garden and the examples that they showcase. Home gardeners from all over come to visit the botanical garden for ideas to take to their own yards. I am pretty fired up to see how they plant up the new vertical vegetable living wall! Right now, all of the structural components are in place, so its perfect to gain a better understanding of how the system works. Once the planted socks are added, it will become all about the plants.
Personally as a living wall innovator , I have been fascinated with growing plants as part of the buildings we inhabit and the structures that we create, for my entire career.
Now we call this Biophilia but it had no catchy name when I got started. Check out my favorite advocacy group, Green Plants for Green Buildings for the whole scoop on Biophilia.
My career started with plantable concrete retaining wall blocks. They were designed to cover themselves over with vibrant plants, creating many times more environmental benefit and a completely different aesthetic than a normal structure. Now that my career has moved into Vertical Living Wall’s, I am having a more consumer friendly experience. Not everyone needed to manage a grade change with a structural retaining wall and many may not place plants on their walls growing vertically in some type of holder as part of their buildings. However, everyone needs to eat and we are all feeling the pinch of food being grown far away from its end use and the pitfalls that come with that. Not to mention the lack of self reliance or regional reliance to produce nutritious food for ever growing populations.
With the reduction of arable land and the soil degradation of the land that is under cultivation, vertical walls growing greens and herbs close to the consumer are going to be a more viable option every day going forward. From hotels and restaurants to actual homeowners and end-users on their patios and balconies. Vertical Living Wall’s have so many options and so much potential. I’m proud to be inventing in such a climate and fortunate to have all the years of experience, good and bad, behind me to influence the road ahead. The road ahead looks so exciting to me and seeing the true expression of what’s been created so far puts more wind in my sails!