What are plants without the planting? Semantic irony aside, aeroponic systems make soil-free plant growth not only possible, but rapid and abundant. The level of efficiency, water conservation, nutrient density and food safety seem almost too good to be true at first glance.
Nonetheless, as long as one has the funds and will power to invest in an aeroponic effort, it is just as doable as other farming techniques, and is particularly impressive for urban areas. A quick search of #towergarden on Instagram shows the amazing work people at futuristic-looking farms are currently engaged in around the country and world.
One great exemplar is San Clemente Urban Farms in San Clemente, CA. The non-profit, 501c3 organization uses a popular system called Tower Garden® as seen in the accompanying images.
Tower Garden’s® aeroponic process has been found to “grow up to 30% more food up to 3 times faster than traditional farming methods, using a small fraction of the water and land,” according to a study by the University of Mississippi, one of the best U.S. agricultural research universities.
However, it hardly requires an in depth study to reach this conclusion firsthand. Volunteering at S.C.U.F., I have witnessed this phenomenon on a week to week basis. Repeatedly, I’ve been surprised to see how quickly these plants grow. San Clemente Urban Farms shares the abundance that they produce with local non-profit organizations in an effort to provide nutrient-rich produce to people and families in need.
Greg Licht, founder of the farm, advocates the Tower Garden® aeroponic system saying, “It’s easy, guaranteed success if you follow the directions. In our climate, by the beach, it’s hard for people to grow in the ground. With Tower Garden®, you’re growing nutrient dense produce faster than in the ground, cleaner, with less water and less space. I would need acres to do what we do. No pesticides, no fertilizers, no soil. We are donating better and healthier food than you can go buy in any specialty market in our area.”
How does it work? The “beyond organic” process starts with seeds started in natural coconut coir, seeding cubes. After germination, the cubes are placed in full light for a week or two where they develop into seedlings and then are “planted” into the openings of the Tower Garden®. Once in the tower, water is mixed with an added nutrient/mineral blend and pumped up the center from a base reservoir before being sprinkled down the core.
Plant roots hang freely inside the tower where they are exposed to oxygen throughout the day and repeatedly sprinkled with water and nutrients. In as little as three weeks, seedlings are transformed into full-grown plants. Aeroponic systems can be grown year around indoors or outdoors depending on location, temperature, lighting etc. NASA has even grown plants aeroponically in space!
Individuals can manage their own tower or volunteer as a group, community effort with the potential of growing hundreds, or even thousands, of plants in a relatively small area. This can lead to abundant, organic nutrition all year long in places where it may otherwise be hard to come by. Don’t we all deserve nutritional food that we can trust and feel good about feeding to our loved ones and ourselves?
As public consciousness expands around food quality and nutritional health, so does concern about industrial farming and the use of GMO seeds, herbicides, pesticides, chemicals, the threat of water shortages etc. Aeroponic systems are a great way for individual growers and community groups to take health into their own hands by making sure their food is organic and has beneficial nutrient density.
For more information on the potential of aeroponics for you visit TowerGarden.com. To see a wonderful example of an aeroponic farm growing abundantly and giving back to people in need visit SanClementeUrbanFarms.com