Growing food vertically is gaining exposure.
My last Blog segment had a picture of this blogs featured living wall, in an unplanted state. I knew it would be stunning once planted, due to its location at the Missouri Botanical Gardens’ – Kemper Home Gardening Center. The Kemper area is dedicated to showing gardeners what is possible while providing educational resources. They always exceed my expectations and no surprises here either! This VerTexx vertical garden (Varden) is a beauty! They have grown out our VerTexx growing media filled socks with herbs and edible flowers in their greenhouse, prior to installing the socks into the VerTexx trays. Dropping the planted socks into the carrier trays provides instant wall coverage as you can see. The gardens horticultural staff maintains 3 sets of socks so that they can rotate them seasonally for the freshest crops and best aesthetics.
If this wall was in your backyard, patio, balcony, or even a restaurant setting, it would be ready to harvest with super tasty organic produce. I love it! If you have ever been to our Botanical Garden, you know what they can do with plants, if not, you need to make a trip here, as many from around the country so often do.
Why waste water, money and labor on something you can’t eat!
This is how I was met by an organic farmer in Southern California a few years back and it stunned me into giving the matter some serious thought. He was right and his challenge took me back to my childhood and then launched me forward into my future… without him even knowing what had just happened. At the time I was running the Livingwall Division for Filtrexx International and was in the process of launching my latest living wall product, which was for vertical living walls. My product thoughts were all around ornamental living wall applications and although the VerTexx system was designed for excellent plant health and culture, I had not considered food production and vertical gardening.
This particular farm was growing food in my new invention and doing things with my “baby” that I had not considered (or even wanted to at the time) yet. Since VerTexx held a very large volume of growing media, for a vertical wall system and since we blended our media with a high percentage of locally produced compost, it was very conducive to growing edible plants as well. The flavors and nutrients in the vertically grown greens and herbs took me back to the days when I gardened with my grandparents. I had never tasted flavors that intense before. When I helped my grandparents, I liked the work and the closeness to nature way better than the greens, like most kids. Once I left that farm, I was committed to always having that quality of produce in my life.
Using my gifts and talents for a significant propose.
Today, nothing I buy in the store seems to come close to the flavors I tasted on my first trip to that organic farm, so I have set my mind to food production systems for the next stage of my career. As I have gone along supporting the living wall business, I have been educating myself on food production methods, markets, soil and the status of commercial farming, as well as the greenhouse industry. I have even gone back to gardening but with a vertical twist and most likely my grandparents would be proud. Much has been learned in my backyard, commercial farms, urban and community gardens and through research.
The market for organic produce is large and increasing rapidly, just as the battle is raging over what constitutes organic. The planets population is exploding and we are losing good farm land every day for a myriad of reasons too large to cover here. Needless to say, the timing is right for some garden innovation and huge investment is being made into vertical farms. I like to call vertical gardening, “Vardening” and I am excited for its future as our population becomes more urban. As a species, we have grown away from the land and lost connection to our food. Allowing people to grow food where they are and know exactly what is in it and what has been sprayed on it, will become a big deal very soon. I cannot think of a more significant use of my gifts and talents. New innovative products are coming soon!