We ordinarily think of farms as being large green pastures way out in the countryside, where acres of crops are grown and harvested. But these days, farming is becoming a more flexible concept that includes unconventional locations and methods. If you are a restaurant, or you eat in restaurants, vegetables don’t have to come from a rural farm, miles away; the “farms” can come to you.
Hydroponics (growing plants without soil) makes this possible. With hydroponics, plants are grown in water that is infused with nutrients, and it’s usually done indoors without the need for acres of land. So, it’s possible to have farms right in the city, or even in a restaurant! One of the key benefits is freshness—there are minimal (or even no) transport times from the farm to the table. Here are some innovative examples.
Farm.One, an indoor hydroponic farm, is located in New York City. They offer subscriptions of hydroponic greens that residents of Manhattan and Brooklyn can get delivered to their door weekly. They specialize in the rare and exotic, and grow over 700 types of herbs, baby greens, microgreens, and flowers. Because they are strictly local (delivered by bike), they cut and harvest in the morning and it can be on the dinner table that same day. That is fresh!
farms in restaurants
In addition, restaurants are also getting in on the action. The New York City restaurant Bell Book & Candle has its own aeroponic rooftop garden, meaning that instead of being in water, plants are misted with nutrient solution. The rooftop garden supplies chefs with vegetables and herbs. Fun fact: because it is several flights of stairs up, the veggies are usually delivered to the kitchen using a pulley system.
Another restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama called Vintage Year sources lettuces and herbs from a hydroponic farm in a 40-foot shipping container right next door. The farm, MGM Greens, is a partnership with Alabama Power, and this novel idea comes from Freight Farms, which sells the hydroponic shipping container farming systems they call “Leafy Green Machines.”
Finally, Farmshelf is a company that sells automated mobile hydroponic growing units that can be installed in a cafeteria or food hall. For example, Red Rooster Harlem and Mercado Little Spain, in New York City, have Farmshelf units that grow herbs and greens that are served by the restaurants.
No longer does it have to take days to transport vegetables from the farm. Hydroponic farms and gardens can bring the farm to you in cool and interesting ways!