The Grow House by The Ritz-Carlton, Naples
Revolutionizing the Sustainable Dining Experience
By George Fistrovich Executive Chef, The Ritz Carlton Naples | November 08, 2015
Williamson Greenhouses revolutionized the tobacco industry by introducing cutting edge hydroponic techniques and new greenhouse designs. These well-established engineers recently introduced the CropBox, the latest technology in precision sustainable growing, further revolutionizing locally grown culinary experiences. The CropBox is a repurposed shipping container used for its capacity to grow one whole acre of produce year-round that would not be able to grow in certain locations otherwise. The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, in conjunction with our splendid culinary team, have set the standard for the freshest ingredients with this partnership. We are excited and proud to be home to the first of its kind in a hotel and resort setting.
Using the latest technology in precision farming, with a hydroponic vertical growing system, the CropBox will bring sustainable on-site crops to our property for yearlong growing. Our goal has always been to provide guests with the finest and freshest ingredients possible and our CropBox, which we named The Grow House, is now going to allow us to provide fresh produce throughout each ad every season. When coming up with a name it was important that the name reflect the uniqueness of this growing system. The Grow House differs from gardens and greenhouses because it is a 100 percent fully controlled environment; an environment where these non-native crops can fully thrive in an area they otherwise would not have.
Of course, we have seen many restaurants and hotels around the world successfully maintain a garden on location, and incorporate those crops into their dishes. And The Grow House will allow us to do just that, but the difference lies within the exponentially increased levels of quality, efficiency and yield that come along with using such a technologically advanced product, our Grow House.
The focus of The Grow House will be climate sensitive crops that, otherwise, we would have to purchase and transport to The Ritz Carlton Resorts of Naples. Let us take lettuce for example; it is known to be impossible to grow lettuce year round in Florida as it thrives in only cooler habitats and soils. With The Grow House, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples will not only be able to grow lettuce year round, it will be the freshest and tastiest lettuce our guests have ever eaten. We have control over the product's quality at all times and the container is literally right on the property, so our customers will experience only the best produce available.
The product yield coming from The Grow House is scalable to meet the demands of all seven of our successful restaurants. We will produce approximately 25,000 – 30,000 heads of lettuce in a year. These lettuces are currently being used in our mixed greens salads and are featured at The Grill in dishes such as our seasonal Autumn Squash Salad.
We were excited to learn that we can now grow a harvest of fresh micro-greens every 8-12 days, like red bamboo radish or a spicy micro mix. In the same space we can have an acres worth of romaine lettuce. If demand continues to grow for a new type of lettuce, the crops are easily swapped out. If demand goes down for the micro-greens, we can add other new crops quickly, with full growth time only taking about a month.