By Mayuk Saha
When we think of farms and fresh vegetables we think of the huge plots in the outskirts of the cities. However, Farm One in New York City has revolutionized the concept of farming completely through scientific research and innovation. They made it possible for passionate chefs and restaurants across the city to get access to healthy and fresh farm produce without any delay by creating a 1500 square feet farm set up in the basement of a building within the city itself.
They grow around 500 different types of plants, keeping in mind the special demands of the chefs. Since the set up is made by them, they have full control over the optimum environment the plants need to grow properly and also the nutrients they need. They handle all the parameters in way that would give them the right plants with the exact features like size, colour and shape which are demanded by the customers.
The seeds are planted in recycled coconut husks that allows them to derive nutrients as well as space to grow roots. Also, these plants are placed in raft like structures over water which helps the roots to suck in the moisture and grow correctly.
Moreover vertical farms like these use a lot less water compared to traditional ones since the system is created to recycle the water. They don’t use pesticides and instead allow beneficial insects like ladybugs to feed on the plants. Lack of pesticide also allows people to eat the plants directly with no need of cleaning them.
Rob Laing, the creator of Farm.One, got the inspiration for a farm like this in 2015. He was a culinary student and during those days he came across several exotic plants and vegetables that are difficult to find and so it motivated him to create a healthy set up like this to make these ingredients available to all. The products are sold on the day of their harvest, which are then delivered through subway or bikes as fast as possible. Most of their customers are half an hour away from the outlet.
All these ingredients are grown based on the criteria sent in by the chefs like the leaf shape and size which Farm.One produces in batches for them. These chefs are very impressed with this system as it allows them to create the best dish with the healthiest ingredients. Earlier these chefs had to order stuff from California or Mexico which needed to be packaged carefully to keep them fresh. These extra packaging measures created more waste. Farm.One’s unique technique of production has reduced expenses on both sides.
Having witnessed such a great success of his venture, Laing wishes to expand this business to several other major cities and is of the opinion that their resourceful and technologically advanced system can be utilised in different ways. Although they produce unique plants, the system makes them less expensive and he hopes his innovation will lead to more farming ventures in cities in the future.