Paige Carter Sharing The Amazing Story of Farm One: Urban Chef's Farm of The Future
This time I had the pleasure of interviewing with Farm.One's Director of Experience, Paige Carter. She was kind enough to share the exciting story of Farm.One with our audience of microgreens farmers, fans and consumers.
What's The Name of Your Farm and where are you based?
Farm.One - TriBeCa, NYC
What's the story behind Farm.One?
Our CEO, Rob Laing, previously ran a tech company in Japan. He made the decision to transition into the food industry and started taking culinary classes to figure out how he wanted to do that.
While taking his classes, he visited Farmer's Markets regularly, noticing a recurring theme of his new favorite produce being out of season the next time he returned to the market.
From that: Farm.One was born under a single question - "how can we provide quality produce to chefs in city centers year round, without regard to seasonality?"
Rob didn't have a background in hydroponics himself, so he hired a team of experts.
The first of our farms was a small test farm at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, opened in 2016.
Our model is different from most other farms: we grow our product to order for our chefs, we don't operate on an inventory basis. Because this is a new concept, the test farm's goal was to test if people would be interested in the concept and in our produce.
We sold out of the farm quickly and began looking for more space within our first year.
We opened our second and current location in TriBeCa in 2017. Our first farm location is now operated by the Institute. We're currently looking for a larger space in Manhattan to open our third farm in New York.
What is the most exciting story you've experienced while running the farm?
We're in a really exciting period of growth right now with several new farms opening globally and a new farm opening in a city in the US, hopefully this year. It's exciting to be expanding our flagship operation here in NYC, too. Of course, all the plans for the future are sort of on hold while COVID is around.
What types of microgreens and other produce are you currently growing?
Our crops on the farm currently are slightly different than what you'd usually find. When COVID started and the restaurants closed, we had to pivot away from our grow to order restaurant wholesale model over to a direct to consumer model for folks at home to enjoy.
We're growing a lot of micro salad greens - micro arugula, micro mustard greens, micro onion sprouts, micro parsley, micro cilantro, micro radish…with several more micro options on the way.
Many farmers are wondering nowadays how other farms have successfully pivoted in response to COVID. As such, I’ve decided to include an extra question asking Paige to elaborate on their pivoting a bit.
I honestly think it's a little early to deem it a full success, but we're doing the best we can and it seems to be paying off. The moment our restaurant customers closed, we got to work on building a direct to consumer model to take the place of our restaurant sales. Because there's so much uncertainty in the world, we've been very careful not to think too much about the future and instead focus on responding to what's known right now. I think we're doing well simply because we've remained open to changing course.
We currently offer contactless delivery to Manhattan only. We're hoping to expand soon to contactless delivery to Brooklyn and Queens. We also offer contactless pickup from our TriBeCa location for those that live near the farm or outside of our delivery zone.
What makes your produce different?
We focus on microgreens, edible flowers, and rare herbs- things you can't usually find fresh in the city. Since opening in 2016, we've grown over 700 different crops. Because we deliver hyperlocal the day of harvest, we're able to select for flavor and appearance rather than for varieties that will survive the weeks-long journey from the farm to the grocery store to a plate.
What kind of clients do you currently serve?
Typically we serve fine dining & Michelin-rated chefs and bartenders. During COVID, we're selling directly to NYC at home.
What's the Mission of Farm.One?
To surprise and delight with local, rare, fresh produce.
Sadly, a lot of smaller farms and ones that started just recently are struggling to survive due to the huge drop in sales this spring.
Based on your experience, what would you suggest farms in a similar position think about?
Get really in tune with your customers and your audience. Remain open to possibilities, even if they're outside of what you've usually done.
Visit Farm.One's website at https://farm.one.