The garden grow-op

The garden grow-op: how to grow herbs indoors for freshness and quality
By Liana Robberecht

November 13, 2012


Pretty much every chef I know (including myself) has romantic visions of grazing a garden for fresh cuttings of their favourite herbs. However, working in a kitchen with no windows in concrete buildings within the middle of the urban jungle makes that dream virtually impossible. Unless those buildings are fortunate enough to have rooftop gardens, even those rooftops are subject to the ever-changing Canadian climate. What’s a poor chef to do? Until now, we had to limit ourselves; until now we had to settle; until now we lived, loved and cooked without the Urban Cultivator.

We can now dream the impossible dream, thanks to this ingenious little invention. First debuted on Dragon’s Den by creator Tarren Wolfe, the Urban Cultivator offers users the opportunity to grow 16 different herbs within their own kitchen. Apart from the obvious perk of having access to the freshest micro greens possible, the cultivator reduces kitchen costs and requires less maintenance than a cat. The self-watering trays run under $5 per tray and yield a rich harvest after just eight to 10 days.

Chef Beat Hegnauer, executive chef of the Banff Centre for nearly 20 years, swears by this kitchen miracle. “How much more local can you get?” he raves. And with three successful restaurants in the centre, Hegnauer knows a thing or two about the importance of fresh, quality ingredients. Now equipped with the ability to grow hard-to-find greens and herbs, Hegnauer’s menu is more unique than ever.

Wolfe, originally from Surrey, B.C., offers the Urban Cultivator in two sizes: commercial and residential. Both units’ designs are sleek and modern, offering easy access to the living herbs inside. Chefs can now select the choicest fresh-cuts moments before plating for optimal flavour and nutrition, both in the restaurant and at home.

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