Did you know?

This is eating about as local as you can get

By Paul Viau | Apr 17, 2013
Photo by: Carol Viau TOWERING TOGETHER — Our Tower Garden assembled in minutes, with the help of Steve Guest, local Tower Garden grower.

I have written quite a lot about buying and shopping local, and also wheezed on (and on) about the importance of a healthy diet, aka “Eating the Rainbow.”

Well, here’s a way you can combine both of those most worthy endeavors, and have a lot of fun in the process. It’s called the Tower Garden®.

This marvel of a growing system was developed by Tim Blank (Yes, Blank is really his last name. He is not just trying to remain anonymous.)

Blank was raised in a rural community in the Dakotas, growing up with a love of the land. His passion for both science and agriculture took him to Valencia College, where he earned a combined degree in horticulture and greenhouse management.

As luck (and divine providence) would have it, Blank was hired by Walt Disney World as an advance intern at Epcot Center, working behind the scenes at the “Living with the Land” pavilion.

You may remember the amazing ride through “Living with the land” and how it explores innovative technologies for more efficient food growth. The ride culminates in a futuristic world of plants growing (as if in outer space) without soil.

Did you know? — That world of hydroponic growing was Tim Blank’s baby, and in 2000, Blank became “Living with the Land’s” chief horticulturalist and greenhouse manager, where he developed a revolutionary vertical aeroponic (air and water) garden system.

The Tower Garden, as Blank named it, makes it easy for just about anyone to grow fruits and vegetables — (1) with less effort, (2) more efficiently (better yields), and (3) in a fraction of the space of a traditional “garden.”

When my wife and I first moved to our great Smoky Mountain home, I remember interviewing a local beekeeper and proponent of self-sufficient living by the name of Kathleen Lamont. She asked if we were going to grow our own food. “I don’t see how, I said. We live up a mountain.”

Lamont simply replied, “You can’t eat your views.”

Well, with the Tower Garden, we can (and do) have vegetables and healthy leafy greens growing — right outside our door.

Better yet, they are all organic, and growing (not in dirt) but bathed in nutrient-rich water and air.

We got a late start this year due to the unfortunate delay of spring (which I blame on the do-nothing Congress) but thanks to our Tower Garden, in a couple weeks we’ll be harvesting a variety of Swiss chard, kale, lettuce, spinach and arugula for our nightly salads. And we can re-harvest that produce again and again, all season long.

If we seem to have too much lettuce and want to add broccoli and cherry tomatoes, we can make that change in minutes.

Best of all, there is no weeding, no tilling, and no ground pests to worry about. We are using about 10 percent of the water and land of normal gardening, and cultivating a healthier environment.

The Tower Garden virtually eliminates the need for pesti-Cides, insecti-Cides and herbi-Cides.

Another Did you know? — When you see the suffix “cide” at the end of a word, it means that substance or product is killing something. The trouble is, we don’t know the depth of all that it’s killing. So, as Liz Lemmon would say, "I don’t want to go there.”

That’s how I feel about GMO— genetically modified organisms — which is a hint of columns to come.

Anyway, to wrap up my story about the Tower Garden, I can’t think of a way to eat and better, or any more local than growing food on your deck, balcony or patio. And it’s so much fun, I’m thinking of adding a second Tower Garden to feed my hunger for cherub tomatoes.

If you are interested in the Tower Garden, view the many Tower Garden videos on YouTube.

You’ll see a variety of incredible personal stories, a dramatic, four-week time-lapse video of Tower Garden in action, and how the Chicago Department of Aviation is feeding 10,000 people (sustainably) at O’Hare airport.

For more information, you are welcome to take a look at our Tower Garden or email me at jpviau@me.com.