50 Ocean in Delray Beach has installed three interior towers of aeroponic and hydroponic plants. Root balls of herbs, microgreens, lettuces, and spinach are thriving. Within a few weeks, the towers will be lush with produce.
“We first saw these systems over two years ago at a food show in Chicago and thought it would make an interesting educational tool for our guests,” said Mark DeAtley, 50 Ocean’s general manager. “They could interact with the plants and even pick fresh strawberries right off the vine.”
High-tech hydroponic farming has been around for decades. It is used extensively in countries throughout the world, supplying high-quality produce under controlled conditions. Tim Blank is the inventor of the Tower Garden system used at 50 Ocean. He created a method of growing plants that could be assembled in 30 minutes without installing the expensive electronic equipment that is used in commercial operations.
Each tower has a 2.5 foot by 2.5 foot modular base that can support up to 44 plants. Seeds are started in natural rock fiber. The cubes are placed in full light for a week or two, where they develop into healthy seedlings that may be planted in the tower. A pump in the 25-gallon base is filled with a mineral nutrient solution. The solution is pumped up through the base and drips through a device that cascades evenly over the plant roots. On the journey down, the solution bathes the plant roots and they become highly oxygenated. Because of the design of the tower, plants grow faster than they would in soil, and must be harvested on a regular basis.
50 Ocean’s Executive Chef Joseph Bonavita, Jr., says that the towers, located against a wall in the lounge area of the restaurant, will not supply the needs of the restaurant on a daily basis, but should be able to furnish herbs, fruit, and microgreens for cocktails, specials, and garnishes.
50 Ocean is located at 50 South Ocean Boulevard A1A in Delray Beach.Visit online at 50ocean.com.
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