Finding fresh produce in an urban setting can be a challenge. If you do have any spare real estate for a garden, chances are there isn’t much quality soil to support the plants that bear the nutritious fruits and veggies. But what if you could grow those plants without soil?
That unlikely sounding scenario is possible through hydroponics, a method of growing plants in nutrient-rich water. And a company in Tel Aviv is singing the praises of this technology – as well as practicing it – from the rooftops.
Patrons at a few Tel Aviv restaurants may have noticed their lettuce has a strange new taste recently: the taste of freshness. Two Tel Aviv restaurants are serving up lettuce that was grown in floating beds of water on the rooftop of Dizengoff Center, in an innovative new urban gardening system that aims to provide city dwellers with straight-from-the-farm veggies.
“People are used to lettuce tasting a certain way, after it’s been sitting in a bag in the refrigerator for a week,” said Mendi Falk, the 42-year-old director of Green in the City, a hydroponics project in the center of downtown Tel Aviv. “With hydroponics, the lettuce is harvested just 15 minutes earlier. It has a different taste.”
Falk runs his 100 square meter farm, which supplies leafy vegetables for two restaurants and a farmer’s market in Dizengoff Center, on the roof of Tel Aviv’s central mall with just three hours of labor per week and 120 watts of power (the average household light bulb is 60 watts). He utilizes a number of different hydroponics systems, which means that his vegetables grow while floating in a special blend of water and fertilizer.
There is no dirt whatsoever. There’s also no weeding, no extra watering or fertilizing processes, and no pesticide spraying.