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Two years ago, a trio of vertical, aeroponic tower gardens arrived at the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club and introduced youths to a new way of sustainable living that also aided in community outreach.
Dozens of harvests, cooking classes and meal prep for the homeless later, the towers are still going strong.
Wednesday members of an organization that helped the Club attain the towers dropped by for a visit, and was pleasantly surprised.
“We’re very impressed,” said Beth Misner, an author and speaker who was instrumental in helping the Club secure a grant for the towers from her husband’s company, the BNI Foundation. The foundation supports children and education through grant funding.
“It is more than I thought it would be,” she continued. “This is wonderful.”
The towers grow all manner of fruits, vegetables and herbs using water and vitamins and growth occurs three times faster than traditional gardening.
Thus far, Club kids have prepared several meals from the towers for clients of Opportunity House, Vacaville’s lone homeless shelter, and used the produce in Club culinary programs.
The produce also has gone toward homemade jams, pesto, pickles, salsa and more, all of which are being sold to support teen programs at the club.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” joked Brian Bentzen with BNI.
Without the towers, said Club volunteer Susan Schwartz, who oversees the gardening program, among others, the kids would not be able to do all of the projects that they do. That includes jarring their proceeds, which teaches them about sustainability.
Misner said she wants to get more business people involved with the Club and help bring the kids’ dreams to life.
Such dreams include possibly rebuilding the club headquarters and working on a new kitchen.
So many business people want to help, she added, they just want to be told what’s needed.
“It’s magical what happens,” she said.
For their part, Club kids were enthusiastic about showing the BNI pair what they could create with tomatoes and more grown from the tower. So, they chopped and added in farmer’s market items and stirred in garlic and red pepper flakes.
The results — tasty salsa fit for a king.
Misner and Bentzen dubbed the salsa — ladled out on tortilla chips — amazing.

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