LOS ANGELES, California, USA (April 8, 2016) – With both the ongoing drought and loss of farmable land, the rapid depletion of natural resources is a relevant concern in today’s times. To fight these issues, USC Hospitality has taken action to assert its responsibility for the earth in developing the USC Teaching Garden, a self-sustaining garden to harvest a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers for its dining venues. The garden’s farming techniques support USC Hospitality’s commitment to the environment and to the health of our dining guests by growing our own food locally without the use of any harmful chemicals.

With the support of LA Urban Farms, the USC Hospitality Group successfully opened the USC Teaching Garden and is the first university in the nation to have a farming effort of this scale using vertical Tower Garden® aeroponics technology. Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers can all be grown in this garden without the use of any soil or harmful chemicals. The seeds used in the garden are 100% organic and the plants are fed all natural water based ionic minerals and plant nutrients. The plastic is FDA food grade approved plastic & UV stabilized for outdoor protection. Leafy greens & herbs can be harvested in just 21 – 28 days. The towers are remarkable in the way they sustain plant growth while using 90% less water and 90% less land than traditional gardens. The USC farm is growing 2,640 nutrient dense plants in just a 60’ x 20’ square foot space. In addition, USC culinarians are given access to the garden to grasp the significance of environmental impact we have on the earth in farming our own produce. Through the process, USC Chefs have strengthened the pride they have in serving guests using farm-to-table methods.

What was once an empty, colorless patio has now transformed into a tranquil, vibrant haven of growth, health and life. It is a cornerstone to empowering chefs, students and guests of USC to consider the food which they eat and how this food is grown. Executive Chef Eric Ernest, CEC, CCA adds “I am extremely proud to work for an organization that focuses so much on culinary excellence and the guest experience.” As such, the urban garden supports many of the experience principles of the department’s food philosophy and will be fully integrated into menu development for the restaurants of USC and Residential Dining.

Sources: LA Urban Farms and the USC Hospitality Group