Home Goods | September 12, 2023 11:31 am

Lettuce Grow Makes it Easy to Garden at Home and in Your Hotel

No need for a green thumb with this hydroponic company

Lettuce Grow Stand in a well lit kitchen
Lettuce Grow

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From nutritional perks to lowering the carbon footprint, the benefits of at-home gardening are myriad, but not everyone has the green thumb — or the square footage — of Martha Stewart. The allure of at-home gardening has never been more appealing. Especially spurred during the pandemic, when folks were basically homesteading and snipping their own herbs while waiting for their sourdough to rise. But just because you might lack the expertise doesn’t mean you should be deterred. Case in point: Lettuce Grow is an on-the-rise hydroponic company designed to provide easy, affordable access to fresh leafy greens for everyone, in every environment.

Founded in 2017, the company is co-owned by Zooey Deschanel, but don’t think of Lettuce Grow as a Goop-like cash grab. Basically the antithesis of Gwyneth Paltrow’s elite empire of questionable skincare and diet regimes, Deschanel’s vision is far humbler — made apparent by the fact that her business model is inclusive of people who live in studio apartments, and not just those who, say, summer in the Hamptons. Also, perhaps the most modest of all veggies is front-and-center in the branding. They have elevated lettuce from salad filler and burger afterthought to the star of the show.

Gardening for all

The biggest barrier to entry for most would-be home gardeners, of course, is a lack of space. As more and more people move to dense urban areas, and the cost of living inhibits square footage, they’re often sacrificing yards, patios and terraces. Lettuce Grow, however, is sized and designed for all — so you’re out of excuses as to why you can’t harvest your own micro greens. 

The company sells gardening vessels called “Farmstands,” which come in various sizes and are designed for growing both indoors and outside. The different sizes are determined by the amount of plants they can grow, with the smallest being a 12-plant stand that’s less than 4 feet tall and a base that’s barely two feet by two feet. If used indoors, with the addition of LED Glow Rings to sub in for sunlight, this little gizmo can fit anywhere, whether you live in a home or a shoebox-sized apartment with several roommates who all equally appreciate Swiss chard. 

Farmstands come in sizes from 12 plants to 36 all contained in a self-watering and self-fertilizing hydroponic contraption. It’s capable of growing herbs, edible flowers and of course, lettuce. Even heartier veggies, like broccoli and eggplant, can be produced if Farmstands are placed outside. Pricing for Farmstands starts at $399. There’s virtually no assembly required and minimum effort or upkeep, it’s a small price to pay upfront for an endless supply of fresh ingredients. 

Going green

Aside from convenience and accessibility, a big perk for Lettuce Grow is its eco-friendly impact. Gardening, for all its well-intended purposes, tends to leave a pretty mammoth carbon footprint, due to all the water required for soil. Lettuce Grow, however, minimizes that footprint down to a mere pinky toe. 

The Farmstands, which are made from recycled plastic plucked out of the ocean, use 98% less water than typical soil gardens, and since plants are shipped as seedlings, delivery trucks don’t require refrigeration, thus reducing the carbon footprint to the bare minimum. And speaking of seedlings, wannabe gardeners have ample to choose from. In addition to baby lettuce mix, summer crisp lettuce, butter lettuce and romaine, customers can choose more esoteric options like tatsoi, Genovese basil, marigolds, Celine purple beans, Indigo Kumquat tomatoes and Mexican sour gherkin cucamelons.

Lettuce is the hottest new hotel amenity

Not only does Lettuce Grow make it easy to stay green at home, but also on the go, thanks to a new partnership with Element Hotels that supplies select brands with their own lobby Farmstands. The Element by Westin division, which has participating locations in cities like Tampa, Atlanta, and Bend, Ore., partnered with Lettuce Grow to provide guests with easy access to artisanal lettuces while traveling. While guests are welcome to pluck greens for whatever they’d like, these particular hotels also come equipped with common areas and kitchens, in order to curate more of a “home away from home” vibe, and the opportunity to eat healthier than room service. 

Not only that, but the companies brought on Michelin-starred chef Sammy Monsour to add a little culinary cred. A personal fan of the hydroponic brand, Monsour reached out to Lettuce Grow about collaboration opportunities after he got a Farmstand of his own. 

“For the last 20 years of my adult life, I’ve lived in cities and one-bedroom apartments, and I’ve always wanted to be able to grow my own fruits and vegetables, but I’ve never had the land to do it,” says Monsour. “I started planting fruits and vegetables during COVID with my wife, and we fell in love with being able to pick amazing tomatoes from our garden, but we moved and we didn’t have that garden anymore. This thing is rad because it comes with us and you can change it out 3-4 times a year. It’s a great system with a great variety.”

The chef raves about the sheer bounty at his fingertips, like bok choy, kale and Swiss chard, all of which grow back even after harvesting a whole plant. “It’s real value and sustainability,” he says. “Justifying the carbon footprint of having that shipped to my door.”

An avid fan, Monsour joined the Element and Lettuce Grow partnership to create accessible recipes that guests could use during their stay. Says the chef, “As somebody who loves traveling and eating around America and the world, I wanted to figure out how to create recipes that seemed like they fit in these marketplaces.” As a Charleston resident, Monsour was particularly drawn to the fact that some of these partnership hotels were in the coastal South, allowing him to tinker with some of his prized regional ingredients, like collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens. 

“All guests have access to the Lettuce Grow Farmstands, and even in the room that I stayed in, there’s enough of a kitchenette to be able to take advantage of that,” explains Monsour. “When you’re on the road, you just find that it’s hard to get clean vegetables. I want to treat myself, but I also know that my immune system would be really happy if I just put some clean, nutrient-dense veggies in my system.”

Changing the world, one lettuce leaf at a time

The latest addition from Lettuce Grow is The Farmstand Nook, an indoor LED-lit product that’s slightly smaller and can contain up to 20 plants in less than four square feet of space.  

“What they’re trying to do is assess a realistic concern for people,” says Monsour. “An important draw for this is people that live in apartments, whether in the suburbs or inner city. This offers an affordable and accessible way to grow your own food.” 

By offering such convenient — and comparatively affordable — gardening solutions, the hope is to inspire a deeper drive towards sustainability.  “By growing your own food, it sends you down the rabbit hole of checking out other key issues of sustainability and climate change,” Monsour muses. “Maybe you might buy a pasture-raised chicken egg, or look at the single-use plastics that you’re using on a daily basis. Once you start to look at lettuce differently, maybe it starts to shift your paradigm on food systems in general.”