In a city clustered with high-rise condos, Arthur Chernov and his wife Cheyenne live in one of the few pockets of houses in Aventura. Although fortunate to have a backyard, the Chernovs prefer Aeroponics over traditional gardening. This method eliminates soil and uses only water and nutrients to grow edible fruits and vegetables.
The Chernovs like to use Tower Garden, a system that can grow up to 20 different plants vertically, reducing the amount of space that a regular backyard garden would use. The system requires electricity for the built-in fountain that distributes the nutrient and water mix to the plants, as well as a minimum of four hours of sunlight daily. For houses in the Midwest during winter, grow lights can be substituted for the sun.
“I’ve never really had a green thumb, but as it turns out, I have fallen in love with it,” Cheyenne said. “You can taste the freshness and smell the freshness. I mean what could be easier?”
Some of the pros of Aeroponic gardening are that the plants are pesticide-free, grown locally and the technology reduces the chance of pesticide and nutrient runoff from contaminating the land, air and sea.
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On a recent Tuesday, the two prepared a colorful salad complete with Swiss chard, arugula, three different kinds of kale, basil, cherry tomatoes and strawberries — fresh ingredients from their Tower Garden.
“It’s so in-line with what’s going on today with eating local, eating organic, about knowing what you’re eating and staying healthy,” Cheyenne said. “A lot of what we think is food, is processed. But when you get down to what’s in it, it’s not real food anymore.”
Arthur expressed his disappointment in the Food and Drug Administration for approving six varieties of genetically engineered potatoes and two varieties of apples in March.
“We are being attacked internally,” he said, about the country’s policy decisions, which he feels adds to the obesity epidemic and related diseases.
Krish Jayachandran, Ph.D., professor and co-director of the Agroecology program at Florida International University, agrees.
“For obesity, it’s not about eating too much, it is the hormones and the chemicals we use to produce the food,” Jayachandran said. “Hormones change the genetic makeup and it increases the fat content in our body weight. That’s what’s happening in this country and the policymakers are not realizing it.”
In May, the United States Department of Agriculture developed a new government-certified labeling to decipher foods that are free from genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. But the certification will be voluntary and the companies will have to pay for the testing.
In an effort to combat unhealthy eating habits, Arthur is pushing to get Tower Garden into local schools, so that students of all academic levels can learn the science behind Aeroponics and the importance of growing their own food.
For the 2014-15 school year, the Sunny Isles Beach K-8 School Fund purchased six Tower Gardens, giving three each to both the Norman S. Edelcup Sunny Isles Beach K-8 School and Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High School.
“The kids loved getting involved with their hands with growing and doing,” Arthur said. “If you get kids young enough that have an open mind and are willing to listen, you can change a generation.”
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To learn more
For more information about Tower Garden, which sells for $525 plus shipping and tax, or if you are interested in sponsoring a local school, contact Arthur Chernov at 786-390-5755.