Inside Tribeca’s Underground Farm

Underneath the restaurant Atera, Farm.One is growing more than 500 products for city restaurants.

Farm.One uses hydroponics and LED lights to grow pesticide-free produce, delivering to up to 1,000 pounds of produce per week to restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of Farm.One.

A basement seems like an unexpected place for a farm, but underneath the restaurant Atera in Tribeca, that’s exactly what you’ll find. Farm.One is growing more than 500 different products—including sour, tangy Wood Sorrel flowers, spicy red Mizuna microgreens and a nutty Dragon’s Tongue—in a 1,200-square foot space below our feet.

“It’s an ideal space, close to our customers and finding a way to use unused urban space for something really cool gives us a model for the future,” said Farm.One CEO Rob Laing.

The farm uses hydroponics and LED lights to grow pesticide-free produce, delivering to up to 1,000 pounds of produce per week to restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn (Daniel, Jungsik, Le Turtle, L’Appart, Butter, Uchu to name a few) by subway and bike.

Read more: A Guide to Vertical Farming Techniques

This is Farm.One’s second New York City farm. They launched their first test farm at the Institute of Culinary Education in April 2016. That 200-square foot farm allowed them to look at every single growing process from how to efficiently manage hundreds of seed varieties to how they pack things (they use restaurant speed racks) to how the team works together, allowing them to make plenty of mistakes on a small level before scaling up.

“It’s our graduation to our full-size farm,” Laing said.

Ronny Emborg, executive chef of Atera and Rob Laing of Farm.One inside the underground farm. Photo courtesy of Our Name is Farm.

Farm.One uses software to manage the hundreds of products, all grown to order. Chefs, such as Ronny Emborg, executive chef of Atera can say what color specification they want, the size of a leaf and more.

“In Denmark, it was possible to step out the kitchen door and forage for beautiful ingredients. To have Farm.One in New York, just a few steps away from our kitchen gives us access to a huge range of rare ingredients, year-round,” Emborg said. “Stepping into the farm is happiness.”

Read more: Can Indoor Agriculture Help Us Produce More Food, More Sustainably?

While 95 percent of Farm.One’s customers are restaurants they do sell produce to individuals from their website, offer farm tours and have catered produce for events, including Edible’s Bar Symposium.

Laing hopes Farm.One will be able to use the farm as a model for future farms in cities across the country.

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Bridget is the digital strategy editor for Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Long Island and Edible East End.