Vertical gardens, or plants on walls, offer a unique and cost effective opportunity for restaurants to improve nutrition, meal taste and prestige. By providing a convenient method for growing and harvesting produce, owners and managers can provide their chefs with low cost fresh herbs and vegetables which enhance the quality and presentation of the food they prepare. Living walls are a highly visible symbol of management's commitment to providing their guests with fresh, healthy and delicious diet fare.
One assisted living provider from West Michigan recognized the market readiness for a planted green wall system that was designed to easily grow healthy plants that provide an abundant harvest of edibles. A vertical garden by LiveWall® was successfully installed in April 2012 at the Grand Pines Assisted Living Center in Grand Haven, MI. Heritage Properties Management, which owns and operates the facility, is so impressed with the vertical herb garden that the company's President, Scott Reenders, has implemented similar projects at several of other facilities this spring.
“I'm always receiving positive feedback from family members regarding the fresh herbs,” Reenders said. “In a recent resident survey, there were several positive comments on the green wall. The promotional value alone would have made the green wall worthwhile, but we also benefit from the large volume of herbs that we harvest from our wall throughout the growing season.” Reenders estimates that his wall yields about one ounce of herbs and greens per square foot per week during the growing season.
With a wholesale herb price of $0.50 per ounce a green wall can produce $15 to $25 worth of fresh produce per square foot annually. Factor in the waste reduction that comes with only cutting what is needed and the expense saved in transportation, and the wall produces enough to pay for itself in herbs alone in just a couple of years.
The word of mouth value of a living wall cannot be overestimated. “Our living wall is near our front entrance,” said Reenders, “showing all prospective residents and their families that our facilities are different, that we care enough to provide fresh food.”
Aaron Shapiro, the facility's chef, said he only had one complaint, joking, “There are so many herbs,” he said, “I've had to come up with new recipes.” He added that the Grand Pines healthy menu is salt-free, and the herbs greatly enhance the meals. When not in season, he harvests the herbs and dries them for use throughout the year.”
LiveScreen is a fully assembled version of LiveWall which is wheel-mounted for easy access and moving. “We are also using LiveScreen at several of our other facilities this spring,” said Reenders. “In addition, we ordered wall planter inserts fully grown with popular, more expensive herbs such as rosemary and oregano, so we can start cooking with them as soon as they arrive.”
LiveWall, LLC will showcase its living walls solutions at this year's National Restaurant Association Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on May 18-12. In addition to enhancing chef prepared meals in restaurants and hospitality, LiveWall will promote living walls for use as dividers that add organic ambiance and privacy to diners.
To learn more about LiveWall, visit our website at www.livewall.com.
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