This is a guest post by Tim Blank, Founder and CEO, Future Growing LLC
Today, I would like to share with you the story of how Niels Thorlaksson, an amazing Tower Garden farmer in Santa Barbara, transformed his life from a job that he was not passionate about to living his dream of growing food for the masses with the most energy-efficient and sustainable farming method on the planet. With the severe drought in California, more farmers are looking for similar sustainable, earth friendly growing solutions—and Tower Garden vertical food farming technology,which uses 90 percent less water on 90 percent land, provides that chemical-free solution for feeding Americans, today and into the future.
Here is Niels’ story, in his own words: “My Dad, Erik, has always been an avid gardener, which started my interest in growing my own fruits and vegetables when I was just a little kid. We would plant a garden at home with tomatoes, squash, and zucchini, to name just a few. It was fun eating fresh produce that we had grown, and we enjoyed sharing our harvest with friends too. Growing up, we spent our Saturday mornings visiting the local farmers’ market. I loved trying all the cool local foods, and seeing new offerings with each season. These values of growing my own food and supporting local farmers stuck with me and are still very important to me.
For the past three years, I had been working for a large company in downtown Los Angeles. I realized that my job wasn’t who I was or what I stood for. I knew that I wanted to be involved with something that was making a bigger impact on our world, and do something I really loved. But I had no idea what it was going to be.
This realization coincided with my introduction to the Tower Garden. I was fascinated by the technology and loved the ability to save significant water, space and time while growing. My family and I decided to purchase one Tower Garden, and we set it up next to our tomato and squash garden in the back yard.
However, I soon learned that Tower Gardens were being used for much more than for home growers. I found out that they are being used for commercial food production to support the sustainable and local food movements. I wanted to see how it worked with my own eyes, so I went on tours of several Tower Garden farms.
Seeing how the Tower Gardens can directly impact people’s lives in such a positive way was the final piece of the puzzle. I helped set up several small farms in southern California, and saw that other people shared my values. This is when I decided I wanted to get involved and start a project of my own.
Land is extremely expensive in my area, so I currently have 100 Tower Gardens in my own back yard. Watering grass has given way to watering food, which is grown and used locally. My part-time hobby expanded my vision and passion for local growing, in what has become a successful, full-time business.
I am blessed to be working with some of the top restaurants in Santa Barbara region, and my five-star produce undoubtedly keeps me in that position. I work directly with the chefs to deliver exactly what they want to see on their menus. I can grow special varieties they can’t find in farmers’ markets. When I get my orders, I can deliver them the same day, since most of the restaurants are a few minutes away from my farm in downtown Santa Barbara. In fact, I am the closest farm to downtown!
I hope our Tower Garden farm will inspire people to change the way they think about the food they eat, where it comes from, and how it is produced. With many of the problems we are facing in the future, I believe the Tower Garden is essential to improving the way we access our food.”
Everyone at Future Growing agrees with Niels that the vertical aeroponic Tower Garden growing system is necessary to support the populations of today and the future. With its recirculating water system, the Tower Garden technology saves an incredible amount of time, water, and energy and—most importantly—produces the best-tasting, sustainable produce around. I commend Niels, along with all the other Future Growing farmers, for following their passion and building a business that not only improves their lives, but also the lives of everyone around them and the planet.