By Analiese Paik
It’s early fall and the herbs in our outdoor kitchen gardens have, for the most part, withered or bolted. Even shiso, an herb that last until the first frost, is going to seed. The thought of buying herbs, struggling to keep them fresh, and making sure they’re consumed before wilt sets in got me thinking about growing my own indoors this fall and winter. I’ve done it before – commandeering a living room table in front of a picture window because it provided the perfect lighting. But it’s messy, unsightly in a formal room, high maintenance, and a cold snap can still mean ruin if the plants are too close to a cold window.
What I really want is an herb wall in my kitchen, one like LYFE Kitchen has in the dining rooms of their Palo Alto, CA-based sustainable restaurant chain specializing in 600 calorie or less meals made from local and sustainably grown food. The centerpiece of their dining areas is an attractive wall garden hydroponically growing an impressive variety of herbs and micro greens that are used throughout their menu. See it on the wall? Order it from the menu.
I researched hydroponic growing systems online to see if I could buy one “off the shelf.” The units I found are bulky, occupy a large footprint, and are generally unsightly (think plastic). I want one like LYFE’s – compact, tiered, and attractive. Take a look at the quick video below from their Denver location and you’ll want a practical and beautiful herb wall garden too.
Fortunately, the visionaries behind Wheelock Maidique kitchen design studios in Greenwich recognized a void in the residential marketplace for year-round, indoor growing systems and collaborated with EcoWalls, an industry leader in green wall design, to design an elegant and sustainable solution. Sleek and sophisticated, the Chef’s EcoWall Garden by EcoWalls is a compact, two-tiered, hydroponic growing unit that is now being integrated into Wheelock Maidique’s custom kitchen designs.
At the Chef’s EcoWall Garden launch party held in Wheelock Maidique’s studio on September 23, guests enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres by Chef Silvia Baldini of Strawberry and Sage that featured herbs in every delicious mouthful that had been grown in the demonstration Chef’s EcoWall Garden. What a delightful way to underscore the intent of the herb wall – to inspire us year-round to cook with and enjoy food prepared with fresh herbs and other greens in our beautiful kitchens.
Behind every great design, there is a story. Chuck Wheelock’s inspiration for the innovative living walls came from a visit to Disney’s Epcot ride, ‘Living with the Land’, where edibles are efficiently grown in hydroponic systems, plus a subsequent encounter with EcoWalls’ vertical herb walls at the Architectural Digest Show last year. Bravo to Wheelock Maidique for masterfully addressing the values and needs of health and environmentally conscious consumers.