Like other clean, fast-casual concepts, the menu at Ohio-based, Asian-fusion chain Balance Grille is largely veggie-forward. But rather than sourcing all produce from outside suppliers, the four-unit brand offers fresh, local items courtesy of its own green thumb. Thanks to a nearby 8,600-square-foot, vertical, aquaponics farm owned by the concept, much of the brand’s produce is grown by Balance Grille itself. The farm uses Tower Farms installations to grow their produce.
“The farm is right in [Toledo, Ohio’s] central business district,” says Balance Grille co-founder Prakash Karamchandani. “We went into a strip of retail that was essentially abandoned in the heart of our downtown area. By putting in a farm and a restaurant, we were able to revitalize an entire city block.”
Balance Grille’s menu includes bubble teas and veg-heavy snacks, but is anchored by customizable bowls and tacos, all of which rely heavily on produce. Balance Farms is able to help fill the brand’s need for fresh veg. The farm produces a variety of crops within a controlled-environment, aquaponic grow space, allowing the brand to source much of its greens, herbs, and other ingredients from its own farm.
Similar to hydroponic farming, the aquaponic grow method used by Balance Farms foregoes soil in favor of growing plants in water. In addition to providing a cost-friendly and environmentally-sustainable alternative to traditional soil growth methods, hydroponic, aquaponic, and other soilless farming techniques also have the potential to maximize farm space and crop yield. Balance Grill’s produce is grown in towers that utilize vertical space. These towers are housed indoors in a controlled environment, meaning that the temperature and conditions of the grow room are heavily controlled via software and LED grow lights, making pesticides unnecessary and weather conditions irrelevant.
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