Still Working: Farm.One

Yes, there is a hydroponic, indoor, vertical farm on Worth Street. And yes, the plants are still growing, though now tended by masked farmers. All they need now is someone to eat them. For they were originally grown to satisfy the palates of the city’s most sophisticated (think Marea, Jeju Noodle Bar, Atera) bartenders and chefs, who are now, sadly for all of us, furloughed.

So Farm.One is offering its products direct to consumers in the city for home cooking. If you have ever wanted to try cooking with bronze fennel or add micro cilantro to your mojito — or if you already do and can’t find what you need at Morgan’s — here’s your chance.

For the farm this is a huge shift not just its mission, but in its entire technique and business model. Not only are they high-tech in terms of plant science, but the business grows every shoot to order, using custom-crafted software that manages the intersection of herb lifecycles and Michelin-starred chefs’ needs. This is their first foray into a straight-up inventory model that most farms use: grow it and try to sell it.

“Before coronavirus, it was about rarity and exclusivity for our chefs, and now it’s about accessibility and bringing a mission of delight to people’s homes,” said Paige Carter, the company’s director of experience. “We have to plant in a very different way.”

The farm — a little over 2000 square feet in the basement of 77 Worth that opened in 2016 — usually has 16 employees on payroll to manage not just the growing, but the engineering, the software, the sales and one big component: the events in the space itself. A couple times a night in the pre-corona era, they would host tasting tours, cocktail tours with their Blue Hill-trained bartender, and hydroponic technique classes. They are now down to about 10 employees and have beefed up their delivery staff, who travel the city by electric bike or personal vehicles.

They also have increased what was already a strict bio-security system. Since their farm is so carefully tended (when they harvest in the mornings, they use rulers to precisely measure each stem and examine each leaf to make sure it is the perfect specimen — I’m not kidding) they were already removing their shoes, donning biosecure clothing and enforcing a strict handwashing process. They use no pesticides, only beneficial bugs to seek out the bad critters. “You have microscopic organisms all over you all the time, so we try to limit that.” They have now staggered shifts and added gloves and masks to their outfits. (NB: the photos here were taken in 2017.)

“Early on we started implementing higher measures of safety because our CEO [Rob Laing, who founded and ran a tech company in Japan for six years] saw this happening in other parts of the world before the city put on controls,” said Paige. “But trying to run a farm remotely has been a huge challenge. It’s a hands-on business.”

Over the years they have experimented with more than 700 plants; at any one time they have as many as 150 varieties on the farm. Those are for sale here, along with other products that they are experimenting with: seedlings and subscriptions. They started with a small delivery zone and sold out of slots, so they are looking to expand the zone and the delivery capacity.

But their biggest challenge is reaching consumers, said Paige. “In some ways it’s like starting from scratch with our customer base. But we are seeing a great level of interest and we are adding new products all the time. And the one thing that hasn’t changed is our strong ethos of providing delight to people.”

77 Worth St. (Church and Broadway)
Contactless pickup or delivery
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday



  1. This has to be my favorite post ever! I love microgreens and struggle to find good ones around here (Whole Foods is no bueno!). Ordered my microgreens yesterday and they arrived this afternoon at the top of my delivery slot. So fresh and tasty with the simplest of dressings or alone! Can’t wait to order more on a weekly basis.

    Do you know if they will continue with home sales long term or is this a temporary endeavor??

    • Like everyone, they are not sure how this will go longterm, but I know there are other businesses — like Ox Verte — who think they may emerge with TWO business models at the end of the crisis.