Farm-to-table, how about roof-to-table? While more and more restaurants have been embracing the farm-to-table movement, Urban Farms are popping up in cities to offer the freshest produce and combat the short growing cycle of certain climates. From converted shipping containers to city rooftops, you can find climate-controlled greenhouses growing everything from leafy greens to earthy mushrooms and hearty tomatoes!
With these indoor farms located within urban areas, produce can be delivered to restaurants within hours of being harvested; year-round. It doesn’t get much fresher than that! In addition, growing in a controlled climate means no outside variables like inclement weather; or the need for pesticides or herbicides. Also, the growing cycle can be repeated all 365 days of the year.
Produce coming through a third-party vendor typically has a longer transit time. Farms within a 100-mile radius of a market or distribution center will get produce within a day. If the farm is more than 100 miles away, it will take up to 3 days, and products coming from overseas will take even longer. To account for longer transportation time, some fruits and vegetables are harvested while they are still unripe or processed in a factory to make them more shelf-stable.
In some cases, no soil is involved in these greenhouses, which has many environmental benefits. Indoor farms using hydroponic, aquaponic, or aeroponic technology can set up their garden beds more space-efficiently; they will utilize the vertical space instead of being restricted to just a ground footprint. For example, one shipping container can grow as many as two acres of farmland! These urban greenhouses also use about 95 percent less water than conventional farms and won’t create runoff or soil-stripping issues affecting surrounding wildlife.
Hydroponic systems grow plants without soil but with the roots immersed in nutrient-dense water. Since the water in these growing systems can be recycled and reused, it can save a lot of water. Where a conventional garden would require 400 liters of water to grow a kilogram of tomatoes, those same tomatoes grown with hydroponics would require only 70 liters of water. Aquaponics has the addition of fish with the hydroponic system. The fish produce natural fertilizer for the plants, while the fish can feed off the nutrients from the plants. Meaning you can farm both fish and produce with this system.
You might have guessed it but may not be able to believe it; aeroponic plants are extended in the air, and their roots are directly misted with nutrient water. Aeroponic growing systems are one of the most space-saving systems, like the Ovention MiLO, as they often use a vertical setup. Exposing the plant roots to extra oxygen has also resulted in faster growth!
While every building and structure has a roof, many aren’t being utilized beyond the expectations of a roof. Although you may find the occasional rooftop patio, there is a lot of real estate on those roofs for urban farming. Having a full-fledged urban farm on top of your business may not be practical for your needs, but you can look for a local urban farmer to supply your restaurant with produce. Partnering with an urban farmer allows you to support a small local business, and provide your customers with the freshest produce possible. In addition, this will leave you more time to perfectly roast vegetables in the space-saving Ovention MiLO and check out other seasonal ingredients you could be incorporating into your menu.
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