JOY Magazine--Winter 2021

Page 12

the dish

MGM Greens is growing a lot of green goodness and doing it in a way that’s good for the environment.



quick glance inside MGM Greens’ rectangle shipping containers brings to mind a disco, thanks to the intense purple glow, light emitted from thousands of tiny blue and red LED bulbs, filling the small space. The illusion quickly fades; there’s no music or dancing. And yet, there is life, energy and excitement all the same.

MGM Greens is currently the only Freight Farm in Alabama, there are about 500 Freight Farms farmers worldwide.

MGM Greens began in 2019 when Vintage Hospitality Group partnered with Alabama Power to explore container farming. Today, this urban hydroponic container farm is housed in two former freight containers stacked on top of each other that sit right behind VH Group’s two restaurants, The Vintage Year and The Vintage Café across the street. The operation grows herbs, veggies and flowers for use in both restaurants and to sell to the public at local grocery chain, Renfroe’s. MGM Greens products will also make their way to the Group’s new downtown Italian restaurant, Ravello, when it opens later this year. Vintage Hospitality Group Executive Chef Eric Rivera touted the quality of the produce that’s pulled from the containers and then used in his kitchens. “Having the


best ingredients is really important to me as a chef, and what we’re growing here, it’s amazing,” he said. “These lettuces and herbs are so bright and delicious, and we’re achieving great consistency in the products.” In each container, green things of all sorts are bountiful and thriving. But it all starts small. Seeds for basil, butter and romaine lettuces, Swiss chard, arugula, turnips and more are placed in a substrate that resembles soil, one seed per each indentation in shallow trays at the front of the container. Once the seeds germinate and fledgling plants are visible, they’re transplanted to vertical columns made from pieces of PVC fence post. They’re bathed in the purple light that mimics the sun. They’re fed water, fortified with nutrients, that drips down a furrow in each column at various intervals. They don’t require dirt; just the little bit of growing substrate they began in. The result is