Hamilton Hospitality Aeroponic tower

Paul Hamilton of Hamilton Hospitality tends vertical aeroponic towers.

Space can be a big challenge for urban farmers; aeroponics, hydroponics and aquaponics provide solutions. 

Anton’s Taproom and Restaurant

Anton Kotar always knew he wanted Anton’s Taproom and Restaurant in Kansas City to be at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement. For Kotar, this meant installing an aquaponics system. Aquaponics takes hydroponics – growing plants in water without soil – and partners it with aquaculture. In the basement at Anton’s, you’ll find tanks filled with tilapia; they’re fed with scraps from the kitchen. Water from the fish tanks is pumped into beds above the tanks, where Kotar keeps an herb garden which produces rosemary, thyme, basil and mint. The water nourishes the herbs, and the plants in turn act as a natural water filter. The plants sit in a porous medium called hydroton clay; the plants and the hydroton keep ammonia and nitrogen levels down in the water that returns to the fish tanks, allowing fish and flora to work together.

Anton's, 1610 Main St., Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.888.8800, antonskc.com

Hamilton Hospitality

Paul and Wendy Hamilton of Hamilton Hospitality, the enterprising husband-and-wife team behind St. Louis restaurants such as Vin de Set and PW Pizza, started growing produce in vertical aeroponic towers in 2012. The towers stack suspended containers one on top of another, with the plant fed through one of several holes in the pot. As the roots dangle freely, a motorized pump keeps them hydrated with water showers and nutrients. “It's not easy to grow vegetables in [a] limited space, so when we were introduced to the towers, it was a no-brainer," Paul says. The 2,000-square foot greenhouse has 61 towers, each 11 pots high with four planting cells to a pot. The towers grow greens like lettuces, kale, mustard greens and basil; the bucket hydroponic system enables the Hamiltons to grow fresh tomatoes all winter.

Hamilton Hospitality, 2017 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, Missouri, hamiltonhospitality.net

Two Sisters Farm

At Two Sisters Farm in Lawrence, Kansas, lettuce is grown without soil. Instead, the hydroponic system nourishes the crisp green using a nutrient-film technique. “The plants are grown in a food-grade plastic tray, and they're fed through a constantly hydrating system that’s both water-efficient and nutrient-rich,” says Ryan Eddinger, who runs Two Sisters with his girlfriend, Ariel Simpson, and his daughters, Stella and Sophia. “It’s a way to dial into exactly what your plants need.” Two Sisters grows in a greenhouse, which means it can provide fresh greens to the Overland Park Farmers’ Market as well as local Kansas City-area and Lawrence restaurants – like Westside Local, 715 Restaurant, Merchant’s Pub and Grill, Howard’s Grocery, Story, Lawrence Brewing Co., Shadow Glenn Golf Club and more – year round.

Two Sisters Farm, Lawrence, Kansas, facebook.com/Two-Sisters-Farm-249934568447057