How the Garden Tower® 2 Planting System Promotes The Wellness Lifestyle: An Interview with Chef Daniel Orr and Dr. Kelly Baute

When Bloomington-based Chef Daniel Orr decided it was time to share his healthy eating and wellness regime with the world, he discovered it was going to be a lengthy process — more than eight years in the making! Eventually, he compiled his resources and expertise with another Indiana local, Dr. Kelly Baute, a kinesiologist and wellness coach who shared his passion for healthy living.

The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life is the result of two years of hard work, research, and creativity that Chef Orr and Dr. Baute poured into their manuscript. The book blends the authors’ passions for healthy eating, cooking, and fitness. It is also filled with delicious recipes, activity guides, and inspirational coaching that will help foodies, professional chefs, and apartment gourmands alike “sauté off the pounds.”

During the research process, Chef D and Dr. K cultivated two Garden Tower® 2 vertical planting systems, which epitomized their “one size fits all” approach to healthy living. We sat down with Chef D and Dr. K to discuss healthy eating, nutritious cooking, and how sustainable practices such as growing your own food can help you become the healthiest version of yourself.

Sound delicious? Read on for our exclusive interview with Chef D and Dr. K, as well as a recipe you can make at home using fresh ingredients from your Garden Tower® 2 vertical planting system!

Interview with Chef Daniel Orr and Dr. Kelly Baute

The Garden Tower Project: How were you introduced to your careers (cooking and health & wellness)?

Chef Daniel Orr: My parents brought me up in the 60’s & 70’s. They were basically “hippies,” but without the drugs. They grew grapes and made wine, made homemade oatmeal soap from leftover cooking suet, and grew big gardens of fruit and vegetables. I remember making them breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I like to say that Chefs usually come from 2 types of parents. Ones that love to cook and ones that hate to cook. Luckily mine loved to cook.

Dr. Kelly Baute: I was a very active and really enjoyed Group Exercise and started teaching for Columbus Regional Hospital’s Wellness Program. It was a great program. I learned a lot and it solidified my interest and passion for the study of and practice of human movement. Initially I started teaching group exercise classes, then I pursued Exercise Science as my undergraduate major. I have since worked in public and private sector positions. I later completed my Master’s and Doctorate in kinesiology, working as a lecturer during this time.

GTP: How did you get involved with the Garden Tower Project?

Dr. K: While writing The Wellness Lifestyle, which covers gardening, we explored the Garden Tower® 2 system. Chef D had two going last year and they produced wonderfully and were easy! I now offer The Garden Tower® 2 planting system at my studio, A Splendid Earth Wellness in Seymour Indiana.

Chef D: I have loved seeing them pop up around my adopted town of Bloomington. They have always made me smile. They remind me of my Gramma Orr’s Strawberry Jar that she had in her garden when I was a child. Being an avid gardener and forager I loved the idea or an “all in one” gardening method. Growing, making compost and compost tea and finally enjoying the fruits of my labor at harvest time.

GTP: How did the idea for The Wellness Lifestyle come around?

Dr. K: I was starting a wellness-focused book and Chef D was wanting to finish the manuscript for a healthy recipe and cooking regime that he had started about 8 years prior.

Chef D: Like the Garden Tower Project, the Wellness Lifestyle is an “all in one” life-long wellness plan. Dr. K and I wanted to create something that was a one size fits all way of understanding health and enjoying life.

GTP: What were some unexpected challenges you faced when creating The Wellness Lifestyle?

Chef D: I had to focus on myself. It has been a challenge to own a restaurant, cook and develop recipes for my guests and still have time for me to love myself.

Dr. K: Finding enough time to write and research our topics. You need several consecutive hours to write, research – be creative, and finding those chunks of time is tough when you have a full-time job.

GTP: What was the book-writing process like?

Chef D: It was a long haul for me. It took me about 8 years to get my part done and then another 2 years working with Dr. K on putting it all together. Writing the book is the easy part though. For me the day maintenance is the harder part.

Dr. K: Great! I’ve written academically, book chapters, papers, articles, writing is enjoyable and rewarding, just takes time.

GTP: Why are fresh ingredients so important to great food and nutrition?

Chef D: The fresher your food is, the more nutritious it is. Many of the antioxidants are most available in the whole raw ingredient of fresh fruit and vegetables. Growing and cooking your own food is the #1 thing you can incorporate into your life to live a healthier lifestyle. Getting out in the fresh air, shaking those bones around a bit and finally sharing your homegrown produce with family and friends.

Dr. K: Taste and nutrients! Fresh, well-produced foods taste so much better. And good food should be good for you, i.e., packed with nutrition, not just calories. Your food should feed your body, not just fill your belly. Fresh veggies/fruits have more nutrients than canned. Further, nutrients are better or more easily absorbed [by your body] from the foods in which they are naturally found/occurring.

GTP: How does local/organic produce play into your lifestyle and menu design?

Dr. K: It’s very important and I think it needs to become more important for all of us. Agro-chemicals are toxins. They build up in our environment – internal and external (your body and your home/yard). I think we need to eliminate much of our excessive use of pesticides and herbicides. Lawn applications are prevalent. So is cancer!

Chef D: I love spring and summer when cooking in the Midwest is its most vibrant. I love to look at the farmers that bring me their garden gifts right in the eye. Local is about getting personal with your food. I also love foraging and that is something you can add to your lifestyle.

GTP: What is your favorite home-grown ingredient to work with? Why?

Chef D: I love fresh herbs. I like to rough chop them and toss them into almost all of my dishes. The Garden Tower Project is a great way to have lots of herbs around to use.

Dr. K: Tomatoes! I love them! I like to have home-canned tomatoes for soups, chili, salsa… YUM!

GTP: What strange piece of advice would you give to chefs or health & wellness aficionados who are just starting out?

Chef D: Get to know your customers. It is funny how many chefs cook for themselves. They cook what they like. Get out in the dining room and find out what your guests want to eat. It seems like a “no-brainer” but lots of chefs have no idea what their guests really want to eat.

Dr. K: Plan a schedule and stick to it. Wellness is a lifestyle, so get started and stay committed. Encourage others to join you. Just keep moving!

Thank you to Dr. Kelly Baute and Chef Daniel Orr for their contributions to this article!

Read on for one of Chef D’s delicious recipes — a summer soup you can make with fresh herbs from your Garden Tower® 2 vertical planting system.

Peach and Melon Gazpacho with Cucumber and Garden Tower Herbs Yogurt

This soup captures summer in a bowl. It’s light and refreshing–the perfect balance of sweet peaches and ripe tomatoes.

Note: This recipe calls for “Garden Tower Herbs.” These can vary toward your available herbs and your own taste. I personally like a mix of chives, cilantro, parsley, mint, any variety of basil, dill and oregano.


2 Cn Sacramento Tomato Juice

5 large peaches, peeled and divided

2 C fine diced watermelon

2 C fine diced cantaloupe

3 large tomatoes, cored and divided

1 medium-size sweet red onion, diced fine

½ C apple cider vinegar

1 C Garden Tower Herbs

Kosher salt, hot sauce and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the cucumber & yogurt topping

2 cup finely diced English cucumber

2 C plain Greek yogurt (drained)

1 C Garden Tower Herbs

1 garlic clove, minced

Extra virgin olive oil

How to Make It

Step 1

Quarter 4 of the peaches and 2 of the tomatoes. Process with tomato juice and vinegar in Vitamix (or other high powered blender) until smooth.

Step 2

Chop remaining peach and tomato. Stir into pureed mixture. Add melons, and red onions then season with kosher salt, hot sauce and freshly ground white pepper to taste. Add Garden Tower Herbs.

Cover and chill 1 hour.

Step 3

Meanwhile, combine cucumber and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours. (Chilling can dull the seasoning, so you may need to add more salt and pepper before serving.)

Step 4

Ladle gazpacho into bowls. Spoon cucumber mixture over gazpacho. Drizzle each serving with about 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

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