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A vertical farm in a New York City basement is growing rare plants from around the world

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By December in New York City, temperatures have dropped into the teens, the sun disappears by mid afternoon and snow has covered nearly every patch of grass. Winter has officially arrived but you wouldn’t know it if you were in Farm.One.

Farm.One is a state of the art vertical farm located in a small New York City basement that uses artificial lighting to create perfect growing conditions for some of the worlds rarest plants. The ability to control the environment allows for the farm to grow plants native from any region of the world. The 1200 square foot farm is home to more than 500 edible herbs and flowers.

Robert Laing, the farms founder, acknowledges the concept of vertical farming is not new. “So there are lots of vertical farms out there but most of them really concentrate on leafy greens for the supermarket,” Laing says. “Where we’re different is we grow a huge variety of rare products.”

Farm.One’s customers are some of New York’s most esteemed restaurants including multiple Michelin-starred eateries. “In New York City, most of the year is pretty harsh for growing,” Laing says. “That means chefs are bringing in products from outside so instead we’re growing product from right inside the city so when something ends up on a plate in a restaurant, it’s only a couple of hours from being cut.”

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The other benefits to the vertical farming model are the reduced environmental footprint being left. The farm uses hydroponics which means no soil is needed and 90 percent less water is required than a traditional farm would use. Instead of using pesticides, Farm.One brings in beneficial insects like Lady Bugs to eat smaller harmful insects. “I think over the last 60 years, the question was: how do we feed so many people?,” Laing says. “I think the question now is: what’s the best way to feed a lot of people?”

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