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Herbs From the Underground in Lower Manhattan, New York City

Katherine Chester, a farm hand at Farm One, harvests for a morning delivery. Credit Sarah Blesener for The New York Times.

Farm One just opened an indoor rare herb and flower garden in a TriBeCa basement, and many prominent chefs are flocking to it.

By Alyson Kruegerdec
New York Times
Dec 6, 2017
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

Farm One grew out of this research. In April 2016 the new company started growing products at a small indoor farm at the Institute of Culinary Education, also in Lower Manhattan, on Liberty Street. By August, the farm had its first client: Daniel Boulud’s Daniel. By the end of the summer, the herbs had sold out, which led Farm One to open a second location this fall, at 77 Worth Street.

For $50, New Yorkers can take a tour of the farm, tasting dozens of rare flowers while sipping a glass of prosecco, and they are given a box of herbs to take home. Farm One also offers seminars on the basics of hydroponics, and any herbs and flowers not snapped up by chefs are available for purchase through its website. Mr. Laing is discussing bringing the farm to other cities.

Mr. Laing attributes the farm’s success to two factors: Rare products and low overhead. “Pluto basil can be sold for $40 a pound as opposed to $10 to $15 for regular basil,” he said. And since the farm is small, the cost of expensive LED lights is minimized. Larger hydronic farms like FarmedHere in Chicago have had to close.

Farm One is also poised to cash in on the Instagram-driven food world, where chefs are willing to pay extra money for novelty items like rare herbs and flowers. Mr. Hyland, for example, is besotted by pluto basil. “They are really beautiful looking on a pizza with the little leaves everywhere,” he said. “Customers know it’s a custom-made product.”

Read the complete article here.

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