This Underground New York City Farm Grows Rare Edible Plants — What’s in the Basement?

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(upbeat music) – [Narrator] Meet the busy
streets of New York City. Just one quick elevator ride away lies a surprising new innovation in sustenance and sustainability. (upbeat music) Come with us to discover
the future of urban food in this episode of What’s in the Basement? (upbeat music) – Hi, I’m Justin. I’m the farm manager here at Farm.One. We’re an underground hydroponic
farm in New York City. (upbeat music) One of the advantages of
being a hydroponic farm is that we’re able to
control the environment in which we grow the crops. (upbeat music) We have about 1,200
square feet of grow space. All of our grow systems
are arranged vertically, and we can move them back and forth. So we have a very, very tight and very efficient use of our space. We actually use less water in our systems than we do for our laundry. A lot of hydroponic farms
you’ll see are planted entirely with rows of lettuce or basils. Here at Farm.One, we have
hundreds of different crops. Chefs will sometimes come to us and say, “I can’t find this particular
microgreen anywhere. “I can’t find this herb anywhere. “It only grows in Southeast
Asia or the Yucatan Peninsula.” We’re able to grow these things because we have precision underground here to grow, to control all the conditions, and grow really unique
products for people. – So we are gonna show you how we do planting here at Farm.One. Microgreens, which we specialize in, are the smallest,
earliest form of a plant. So all of the nutrients and the growth is concentrated in a small
shoot when we harvest the plant. This is a spun rock. The rock is spun very finely, and this allows moisture
to seep into the rock between the fibers, and it gives the roots strong
structure as they grow. And then over here we have a tray that’s filled with an organic material. It looks exactly like soil, but it is not. It’s made of things like coconut husk. So we’ve been soaking these seeds for about half an hour or so. So I’m using tweezers or forceps, and I’m gonna place two seeds
in every site of the tray. So if you can imagine
looking at these trays. Each tray has 200 sites. So we’re using 400 seeds per
tray, and we have three trays. So we devote a lot of capacity
at the farm to planting because, as you can
imagine, it takes some time to seed all of these individual sites. – This is called toothache plant, and this is native to
the Yucatan Peninsula. It grows these nice dark green leaves, but what we really grow
them for is these buds. Each of these buds contains
thousands of little flowers, and when you chew it, it numbs your mouth. It’s very spicy, it’s almost salty, it makes you salivate, it’s very acidic, it’s very wild, it’s very weird. (upbeat music) So as you chew the bud, the cell walls start to break down, and you start getting this tingling, odd sensation across your palate. Your tongue goes numb a little bit. It tastes salty, it tastes metallic, it really starts to
expand across your palate, and it’s hard for me to
even talk after that. (upbeat music) Wow, you can really have, it’s kind of like a shot of Novocaine right to your gums there. Packs a punch. (upbeat music) – Hydroponic technology is one that is particularly
utilizing of small spaces. So we’re able to do quite a bit with a very limited amount of space. Thinking creatively about available space is one of the ways that you can start to really see some of these dead spaces turn into centers of production in places that are both creating jobs but also creating incredible value for the local community. (upbeat music)

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