The Brooklyn-based start-up Smallhold, a “distributed farming” company, takes the “farm-to-table” concept a little further: It moves the farm into the kitchens of restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores and other businesses. How so?
The masterminds behind Smallhold, Andrew Carter, a longtime expert in controlled-environment farm systems, and Adam DeMartino, who specializes in product strategies for startups, developed 100 percent climate-controlled vertical farms which they can distribute anywhere throughout urban environments.
Much like a traditional nursery, the company grows the crops 3/4 of the way. The urban farmers then plant their crops into miniature vertical farm units, reclaimed shipping containers, which can be delivered to restaurants and businesses all across NYC. Outfitted with wifi, the growers at Smallhold’s headquarter continue to monitor and control the units from afar, while the restaurants can harvest goods such as lettuce, arugula, watercress, mushrooms or basil in house, providing their customers with the freshest local food.
“Smallhold connects people to produce in the simplest way possible: Bringing the farm to them,” the company explains on its website. “In doing so, we challenge the world to hold their food to higher standards of freshness, supply and sustainability.”
So far, Smallhold is working with a variety of restaurants and businesses, including Mission Chinese, for which they built a custom-installation to match the aesthetics of the restaurant, and Bun-Ker Vietnamese, which harvests blue oyster and shiitake mushrooms on-site, helping the urban farming company to get one step closer to its dream: fresh, exotic mushrooms growing in every restaurant, cafeteria and backyard in NYC.