Can Indoor Agriculture Really Transform Local Food?

Viraj Puri, founder and CEO of Gotham Greens, surveys his hydroponically grown produce. Photo credit: Patrick Kolts

For the third episode of In the Field with Edible Brooklyn, we’re bringing our magazine to life—well, to audio at least.

Earlier this year, our writer Rene Ebersole partnered with the Food and Environment Reporting Network to report on New York’s growing indoor agriculture industry. Some-not-all of these businesses profess that they’re posed to revolutionize local food, but as Rene writes in this year’s Innovation issue, that future’s not so clear.

Indoor growing operations come in many shapes and sizes, and in this episode, we take a look inside Gotham Greens‘ rooftop farm and Farm.One‘s jungle-like basement. We nerd out over some truly special plants and poke a few holes in the common high-tech-farms-will-save-the-world marketing.

Farm.One has a jungle-like operation in a TriBeCa basement. Photo credit: Liz Clayman

They both have hydroponic systems, but that’s only one indoor growing method. Check out this guide to learn about others, including a technique that includes live fish and another where, seriously, plants just grow in air.

The New York area has a thriving indoor growing scene and the NYC Agriculture Collective is a good one-stop site to learn more about our local network. Here are a few of our stories on different operations, too:

As we mention in the show, there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done about the environmental sustainability of indoor agriculture. As Tom Philpott highlights in this recent Mother Jones article, energy poses a serious hurdle for some kinds of growing operations.

Gotham Greens makes a top-notch pesto with their basil. Photo credit: Patrick Kolts

And if you can get your hands on some of Gotham Greens’ basil—it’s delicious—I recommend this simple, herby cocktail from Gramercy Tavern:

Gramercy Tavern’s Rickshaw

Makes 4 cocktails

For the basil syrup
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
1 cup fresh basil leaves

For the cocktails
4 ounces basil syrup (see recipe above)
3 ounces fresh lime juice
8 ounces vodka

To make the basil syrup, bring sugar and water to a boil. Add basil leaves and steep overnight. Pass through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer into an airtight container.

For the cocktail, combine cocktail ingredients in a Vitamix with an equal part of ice and blend until smooth (about 10 seconds). Garnish with a basil leaf.

The first season of In the Field with Edible Brooklyn is produced by the insanely talented Kat Aaron and brought to you by Oatly.

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Ariel Lauren Wilson

Lauren is the former editor-in-chief of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn.