The Green House vegan restaurant in Wilmington has a head horticulturist

When the Green House Restaurant opened over a year ago, plans were already in place to include an actual greenhouse on the property. Now that vision is a reality.

In an area next to their space at 1427 Military Cutoff Road, diners can now see a series of white cylindrical towers that grow 11 varieties of lettuce, 35 different herbs, as well as spinach, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes , peppers and eggplant. for the rest.

The Green House also has a senior horticulturist in Michelle Lyon-Heatherly, who tends to the plants and harvests them when they are ready.

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“I’ve been growing things for almost 25 years,” she says. “There are so many farm-to-table restaurants, but it’s very literal here.”

And, as more people become interested in local food and plant-based eating, she thinks restaurants with on-site gardens will also be a growing trend. As it stands, there are now only four other restaurants in the country using the same tower gardening system. Lyon-Heatherly and her husband trained at one, Hamilton Farms in St. Louis.

Michelle Lyon-Heatherly, head horticulturist at The Green House restaurant in Wilmington, North Carolina, discusses the new on-site greenhouse.  ALLISON BALLARD/STARNEWS

At The Green House, she helps choose what to plant, along with chef Parker Lewin and other staff. Next, she uses organic seeds from quality sources.

“Because really, it all starts there,” she said.

Then, these vertical gardens circulate water and nutrients through the center. It is a system that requires less space and water to grow plants.

There’s still a bit of work to do in the restaurant’s greenhouse, including adding more light sources for the plants, but it’s going well. So Lyon-Heatherly plans to teach a few tower gardening classes and learn where your food comes from in the coming months. (Chef Lewin also has classes on the Green House calendar.)

Lyon-Heatherly said it also plans to add retail of some of the vegetables to the restaurant soon, with pick-up days scheduled about twice a week.

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During her career as a gardener, Lyon-Heatherly said she has worked with many systems, including hydroponics. But she has become a fan of the tower system. She and her husband also have a separate local business, Cape Fear Tower Gardens, in the Scotts Hill area.

“Growing food in this way is going to be important,” Lyon-Heatherly said. “And I think this system is a sustainable way to grow. We can’t create more farmland, but we can add more farmland just about anywhere.

Allison Ballard is the food and restaurant reporter at StarNews. You can reach her at [email protected]

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement