Farm.One is Growing the Highest Quality Greens from a Basement Room in Tribeca
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On Valentines day, my girlfriend and I took a tour of Farm.one. It was an amazing experience trying all of the edible flowers, herbs and microgreens. I’d like to share my great experience of the tour we took.
Farm.one is on the cutting edge of farming. They’re proving a concept at the highest level for a future we need. Upon entering 77 Worth, you take the elevator downstairs to the basement, through a series of hallways, which ends up in a lab looking room, filled with plants and bright lights. Immediately it feels like an exciting secret. Upon entering we were instructed to put on a lab coat-y garment and were greeted with a glass of prosecco. Nic was our tour guide and is also the engineer at farm.one. He’s one of ten employees at the farm. He designed the space and the mechanisms which make the farm work.
The plants are all in shelving units, in separate trays with LED lights above. Microgreens are being grown under full spectrum LEDs, and the flowering plants are grown under red/blue LEDs. Nutrient rich water is pumped in and out of the trays via a complicated piping system. Air is also pumped through the room to deliver CO2 to the plants. There is a crank which moves the shelving units around like a archival library, so there is really only room to walk through 1-2 of the little hallways at a time, making more space for crops.
Growing plants hydroponically is much better for the environment than conventional farming. It uses around 90% less water than soil (Farm.one uses 95-98% less water), because the water is not evaporating out of the soil, and is also re-used. You use about half as much fertilizer for the same reason basically. Since you are growing vertically, it takes up less space than a traditional farm, which means you wouldn’t have to chop down trees or clear an area for farming. You are also growing indoors, which means much less pests. Farm.one does get pests sometimes they say, however they never spray with pesticides. Instead they release cute ladybugs to kill these pests haha. Ladybugs are actually natural predators to many pests that eat plants. The LED lights use 25-80% less energy than fluorescents. If you wanted to be fully green, you would setup solar panels. Farm.one is hyper local as well, so their carbon footprint from shipping is 0 since they deliver on bike!
Nic took us in and out of these hallways, snipping off a few leaves of each plant for us to try. Check out all of these plants they grow! – Most things we tried were a new experience for me. I particularly enjoyed the green wave mustard plant, which tasted like wasabi. I’d love to grow the Pluto basil – besides having a nice taste, I think it could make a great looking edible bonsai. We also tried oxalis triangularis which had a interesting citrus taste. I have one at home and didn’t know you could eat it!
Microgreens are popular for their high nutritional value and powerful taste. Microgreens are basically just immature plants, which contain the same amount of nutrients as their fully grown state, but have a more dense flavor. If you’ve never tried microgreens I highly recommend it as it’s quite a flavor experience! These small greens taste exactly like their full grown counterpart, its incredible. A few carrot microgreen leaves taste exactly like a carrot, its wild. Some of the flowers we tried also had interesting taste’s, but I think it’s more fun to just be eating a flower.
The large variety of plants being grown garnish plates at top restaurants like the two michelin star restaurant above them, Atera. They work closely with chef’s to experiment and create the best crops. Different ways of growing create slightly different looking and tasting plants. I think this is one of the most interesting things they are doing. Farm.One is the only hydroponic farm in Manhattan, and one of three in New York City. Farm.one’s goal is to be hyper local producing high quality greens for manhattan’s best restaurants. Being hyper local means less travel time which means fresher crops, and reduced carbon footprint. Their close relationship with restaurants is likely creating some exciting dishes! (I can’t wait to visit Atera now).
Watch out for the toothache plant its a doozy!
If you want to learn how to grow microgreens in your home, please read our How to Grow Microgreens blog post! Microgreens can be grown fairly easily indoors. Growing them hydroponically is more difficult, but definitely take a shot if you have growing experience.
You can also pre-order the CEO’s book Ditch The Dirt: Grow Edible Hydroponic Plants at Home on Amazon.