It might not be exactly a “giant leap for mankind,” but when Jenny Twomey bought some excess luggage weight for her journey home to Cork from the U.S for a very unusual import, she knew what she was doing was probably a first for Ireland.
Jenny, born in Missouri but married to an Irishman and settled in Crosshaven, was bringing home a so-called ‘Tower Garden’ to try her hand at cultivating salads and vegetables in her home. Vertical tower gardens are a space-age innovation that many say may hold the key to the sustainable city food production of the future.
First tested by NASA in the 1990s, the towers are vertical growing systems that feed and water plants through ‘aeroponics’, where nutrient-rich water is pumped over the plant roots in the tower’s interior at regular intervals. They take up very little space, use over 90% less water than traditional farming, and even result in 30% more plant yield. They can even grow year-round if lights are used.
The first tower farms emerged in the States 15 years ago, but to the best of Jenny’s knowledge, she was the first person to bring the idea to Ireland. She’s not a horticulturalist; she had worked as a medical rep before being introduced to Tower Gardens.
“I’m a foodie,” Jenny explains. “I saw Tim, the developer of the US company Tower Gardens, talking about the future of food at a conference in Florida. I got it immediately. I was saying, ‘when do we get them in Europe?’ For my 40th birthday, I bought myself a tower and paid for excess luggage for the flight home.”
Read more at EchoLive (Ellie O'Byrne)