A container farm in downtown Raleigh houses half of Nanue’s Farm, a hydroponic homestead where owner Trevor Spear has spent the past three years growing leafy greens, herbs, root vegetables, and edible flowers out of irrigated floor-to-ceiling panels.
Ashley Christensen once asked Spear to grow six different types of mustard greens for a salad special at her Raleigh restaurant Poole’s Diner. Spear regularly sells produce to local restaurants, including Hummingbird, Carroll’s Kitchen, St. Roch Fine Oysters, Crawford and Son, and Jolie. “It’s a paradigm shift,” Spear says. “We’re completely changing the way they cook because we can grow anything at any time. And then they can create anything.”
Walking down the aisle of the container he calls “Juanita,” Spear tears off leaves and buds for me to try: there are some familiar ones, like romaine and basil, but many I’ve never heard of, such as a yellow flower called a “buzz button” that offers an electrifying, Pop Rocks–esque zing before causing my entire mouth to go numb. For centuries, people ate buzz buttons to numb toothaches, Spear says; now, bartenders use them to garnish cocktails.
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