Resort installs aeroponic vertical garden
The South Seas Island Resort has grown a green thumb thanks to a relatively new project.
About a month ago, the installation of vertical garden towers was completed on the lanai of the Harbourside Bar & Grill. Patrick Faas, director of Food and Beverage at the resort, explained that the undertaking involved about a year’s worth of planning and research before a plan was settled on.
“It took about three weeks or so to put it together,” he said of the garden.
Faas explained that the resort had wanted to support sustainably and be able to grow its own vegetables, while promoting its initiative to provide guests with engaging experiences.
“Because of the overall environment nowadays,” he said. “We’re doing our part, being consciousness.”
A total of nine towers were installed, with each one featuring 50 slots for plants.
“So 50 different plants can be grown in each tower,” Faas said.
Two towers are being used for micro-greens, with each able to hold up to 148 plants, and one tower currently houses different types of herbs and variations of them. As for the remaining towers, they hold a variety of lettuce, pepper, kale and more – with each one started as a seedling, then transplanted.
“Our first harvest was pretty successful,” he said.
“We currently are still in the process of trying what grows the best,” Faas added.
In planning the garden, the resort looked at the best and cleanest way to accomplish its goals. In its research, it found vertical was the way to go, and it went with an aeroponic one, not hydroponic.
He explained that a hydroponic garden requires a source for nutrients for the plants, which is typically fish. The fish feed and produce waste, and the waste serves as the nutrient source for the plantings.
“We chose not to do that because it’s not actually a really clean way to produce vegetables,” Faas said.
The resort’s towers use an organic nutrient that is added to the water source, he explained. A pump system in each tower sucks up the water and circulates it from the top down in timed intervals.
“The plants basically get trained to take in as much food as they can with the water on that schedule,” he said, noting that the end result is quicker growing produce with more intense flavors.
“They grow three times as fast and the flavor is beyond anything you have if you grow in a more traditional manner,” Faas added.
He reported that the harvest is not enough to feed the entire property.
“Typically, we just like to use it for the Harbourside Bar & Grill,” Faas said.
But, he continued, it does allow the resort to fulfill special or unusual food requests for events or weddings, and try its hand at growing produce that can be difficult for the kitchen to obtain.
“We can actually set out and try to grow heirloom vegetables, which can be difficult to get from a purveyor,” Faas said. “The garden allows us to do some unique and different things.”
Though, it is not just about the harvest.
“It’s somewhere where people can see it,” he said.
“We’re working on signage and things like that now, marketing,” Faas added. “So they (guests) can read and learn about the garden and understand it, so it becomes a little more educational.”
He pointed out that people have already been asking questions about it.
“We’ve had some really good conservation starters,” Faas said. “People are interested. They’re pretty impressed.”
In line with its engaging experiences initiative, the resort is considering hosting educational classes for youth on the garden, possibly with a cooking demonstration that uses ingredients harvested from it.
He noted that it may do one for adults on cocktails, using fresh garden herbs.
“Different things to get people involved and engaged,” Faas said. “From a fun perspective, but also from an educational perspective.”
Asked about whether the garden could expand in the future, he explained that it is possible.
“It depends on how successful the project is,” Faas said.
South Seas Island Resort is at 5400 Plantation Road.