An exterior courtyard, previously used as a smoking area at Dunwoody’s Crown Pointe office complex, has been repurposed as a tower garden. Smoking on the courtyard is now prohibited, and the area has become a beautiful and popular spot for relaxing and unwinding during the work day.
In fact, aeroponic gardens are popping upin interior lobby spaces, sunny rooftops and courtyards all over Dunwoody, while harvests are being shared with area food banks, sold at office building fruit and vegetable markets, and as menu sustenance for local restaurants.
Like hydroponic farming, aeroponic gardens require no soil. The difference: The roots of hydroponic plants are maintained in water; aeroponic plants grow in air while an electric pumping system on the vertical tower drips and circulates water and nutrients as needed. Each tower can produce more than 75 pounds of produce each year.
While aeroponic gardening is not new — botanists began experimentation in the 1920s and some of the science’s greatest strides have come via Disney’s Epcot Center and NASA—the business model for Atlanta-based Copiana is one-of-a-kind. Launched in March of 2018, the company leases, maintains and harvests the tower gardens. Staff members—also knows as Copiana’s “produce whisperers,” visit twice each week to plant, replant, measure pH levels and administer nutrients, harvest the produce, set up farmer’s markets, teach classes on the technology, and more.
“We have installed more than 20 tower gardens,” said Copiana CEO Jim McCutcheon. “The majority of them are in Dunwoody. The vertical earth friendly design uses 90 percent less land and water than is normally required to grow produce.”
With aeroponic gardens, 100 percent of the nutrients and water used is recycled in this closed-system technology. More, the pH-balanced ionic minerals and nutrients protect the plants to the point that very little or no pesticides are required to keep the plants healthy. The tower-to table design can also cut out packaging, shipping and storage.