As we move towards a more environmentally conscious world, “sustainable” is a word that is increasingly on the minds of restaurateurs and diners in the Hudson Valley. Now, one company, Vertical Field, is attempting to ensure sustainable products get to the table, even during crises such as COVID-19, when supply chains have been affected by sick workers and shutdowns.
Vertical farms are indoor, urban farms which grow produce in warehouses with controlled climate and light conditions. Or in the case of Vertical Field, “at the very location where food is consumed,” says chief executive officer Guy Elitzur. Poughkeepsie-based restaurant Farmers & Chefs has teamed up with Vertical Field and brought one of their portable vertical farms to the restaurant.
Set up right outside the restaurant in a container equipped with advanced sensors that provide a controlled environment, the technology constantly monitors, irrigates, and fertilizes crops throughout every growth stage. The soil-based platform can grow hundreds of types of pesticide-free crops.
The vertical farm also cuts down the supply chain significantly at Farmer & Chefs, allowing chef-owner John Lekic (above) to just walk outside the restaurant and pick fresh produce. “It’s a dream come true for a chef, to be able to make a full circle and grow from the seed to the plate. It’s so much fun,” says Lekic, who was introduced to Vertical Field through a mutual friend. “We’re still sourcing most of our food from local farms, [but] to be able to do this, it’s very fulfilling.”
“We just had our first harvest,” he continues. “We have grown some buttercrunch lettuce, Siamese basil, several different types of arugula and kale, and it’s great. It kept us busy, with everything shut down and all the anxiety and everything else. I was always a big supporter of producing more of the food that we consume locally, and I think the world is heading that way.”