Toledo’s very own Balance Pan-Asian Grille has started up its own hydroponic garden which is an exciting new step for the whole community.
Hydroponic garden systems are a new way of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution instead of soil. This system is a great way for businesses to grow their own food in-house, which not only cuts transportation costs but also supports other local businesses and farms. Consumers are also able to eat food that is fresher than ever before as it was grown close to home.
Although the new garden is a large step for Balance Grille into becoming a more environmentally conscious business, this is not the only step they have taken.
“We do a lot on sustainability on the restaurant side, too,” Prakash Karamchandani, co-founder of Balance Grille, said. “We tried composting, we have water conservation efforts and obviously locally sourcing, but this is truly as close to sustainable as we can get,”
He explained that even though Ohio is seen as an agricultural state, there is not an abundance of locally grown crops due to the short growing season. The restaurant wants to continue supporting farms in the area and buys product locally in season but they also want to become more sustainable year-round.
Enter the indoor hydroponic garden.
This new system does not produce all of the items on the Balance Grille menu, but it is certainly a step in the right direction for not only this restaurant, but many others. All the way from Cleveland to Detroit, stores were buying food from the coast that they are now able to buy from this Toledo farm. This saves the restaurants money while it also decreases the amount of miles the food has to travel. Therefore, less preservatives need to go into the food so the food is fresher.
Hydroponic farms don’t use soil so where do the nutrients for these plants come from? It actually comes from fish raised in-house. With the fish waste, fertilizer can be obtained and is used to grow the plants.
The plants themselves are actually undergoing a new flood and drain system which involves the occasional draining and flooding of nutrient solutions. This change in systems is due to the higher demand for Balance Grille’s microgreens. Plants such as onion, basil and cilantro are grown.
The farm also uses the process of continuous harvest, which means that it is pumping out the same quantity of product for each interval of time. This creates a sustainable system that can be relied upon.
“We engineered all these systems; we built them from things we got at Menards and Home Depot,” Karamchandani said, after explaining how this farm was no easy feat but was slowly built up to what it is today.
For customers of Balance Pan-Asian Grille that want to know whether this hydroponic farm was just a trial run or whether there are plans for it to continue: the hydroponic farm has no plans of going away anytime soon and will expand as the restaurant itself grows. The farm is now sustainable and is able to help out restaurants in Ohio and Michigan with its locally grown products. Slowly but surely, sustainability is stretching across the restaurant industry with innovations like this one.
For more information, visit balancegrille.com.