Dr. Jonathan Roberti is a popular fixture in Cos Cob. Since he wheeled his aeroponic garden towers onto his Bible Street yard, reactions from Greenwich neighbors have taken on a pattern.
Roberti said every day people stop by to to ask questions, and most of the time they admit that at first they thought the newfangled contraptions looked a bit silly. But then they saw his beautiful Swiss chard, kale and arugula take shape — and cucumbers, tomatoes, wheat grass and mint. And they were intrigued.
The vertical tower gardens are 21st-Century-technology-meets-farming, with chemical-free nutrients water, and oxygen to grow above-ground crops, and each one accommodates 28 plants. He said they are built to last because they’re constructed from good grade plastic, double UV protected and BPA free.
Dr. Roberti, a Hippocrates Health Educator, is passionate about his growing method. But he is also passionate about the health benefits of eating a clean diet. “I am in better shape now than in my 20s,” he said.
Back when he worked 60-70 hour weeks practicing medicine, he often ate from a vending machine.
“This is a personal journey for me. People have acquired the idea that the only way to health is through a pill, but if you take control of your food, you take control of your health destiny,” he said. Roberti argues passionately that aeroponic tower gardening is not only the way to take control of the “chain of custody” and ensure that the only people handling your food are you, but the method also conserves water and land, and money.
He lists urban food deserts where bodegas have proliferated, and fresh fruits and vegetables are absent, as a threat to health of the next generation whose life expectancy, for the first time, will be shorter than their parents.
“I’ve worked with children and asked them, ‘Where does a carrot come from?’ and they say, ‘From a bag,'”Roberti said.
According to Dr. Roberti, fresh fruit and vegetables don’t have to be expensive. “We have to rewrite the script. The food industry takes profits over people,” he continued, adding that it’s not in the interest of either the medical industry or the food industry to teach people how to take over their food destiny. He estimates that 90% of chronic disease and inflammatory health challenges can be relieved through changes in diet and lifestyle.
“This is where 21st century technology meets farming,” he said. The system uses just 10% of the amount of water and space required by traditional farming in soil. The towers sit in barrels that are mounted on casters. When the weather turns nice, just wheel the entire tower into the house and continue growing 365days a year.
Dr. Roberti is the picture of health and fitness, but that wasn’t always the case.
Those long hours and poor diet were the bane of his existence. It took a horrible car accident when Roberti was hit by a drunk driver and experienced a traumatic brain injury, 7 herniated disks and countless doctor visits during recovery before he had an epiphany.
“I was spending so much time in doctors’ offices. I got sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said. “They wanted to do radical invasive procedures. So I rook my health into my own hands and got my life back through plant based medicine.”
Robert dropped from 240 lbs to the 190 he is today. “People take control of their health either out of desperation or inspiration,” he said. Either way, he points out that growing one’s own food provides food security as well as health benefits. Dr. Roberti points out that his own experience can serve as a blueprint for people to regain their health.
“Ninety per cent of chronic health problems are due to dietary and lifestyle factors,” Roberti said. “So if you can help people clean up their diets and consume organic, GMO-free, chemical free, high vibrational food, the benefits are tremendous.
“All those foods in the supermarket create havoc with our reproductive, metabolic and digestive systems. The best foods we can consume don’t have a label on them.” – Dr. Jonathan Roberti
“Growing your own food is so simple,” Roberti said. “With these aeroponic gardens, there are no tools, no tilling, no bending or stooping. My only tool is a pair of scissors,” he said.
Roberti starts his seeds in trays of rockwool. Once they start to grow — in about 10 days — we transfer them into the nutrient rich tower environment where they grow 30% faster. There is no soil and there are no bugs.
“We’ve been brainwashed into thinking healthy foods have to be expensive,” Roberti said. “On average, food we buy in the supermarket has been shipped over 1,000 miles and are not nutritent dense. When I give people food from here to taste,” Roberti said, pointing to his row of towers, “They are shocked they are and how good it tastes.”
Community engagement is important to Dr. Roberti, active partnerships within the community have blossom more recently with project-based learning and healthy eating habits. Parkway School, a recent Green Ribbon Award recipient from the Department of Education, leading the way to inspire a new generation of healthy eaters using the vertical tower garden.
Dr. Roberti is happy to hear from people who have questions and/or for more information on purchasing a vertical tower garden.
Email him at [email protected]
Find him on Facebook at Vertical Sundays