Planting tiny indoor farms in strip malls and office parks

Indoor agriculture doesn’t get more local than small vertical farms right where people live and work. But the future of these farms is more closely tied to conventional urban farming than the wider vertical farming industry.

Little Wild Things is a 3,000 square feet, windowless second-floor space rented from the hardware store downstairs. Rows of microgreens growing out of dirt are stacked five levels high, and you hear the constant whir of a hydroponic tank pumping water to two rows of edible flowers. It’s a commercial operation, one of several small vertical farms in the D.C. area.

Inside, Little Wild Things is protected from the “freak accidents of nature” that can ruin a crop, farm manager Brittany Gallahan said, and workers aren’t exposed to UV radiation for long hours under the sun. Smaller vertical farms also offer the shortest distance between farm and consumer possible. Across the river from Little Wild Things, Area 2 Farms delivers its produce to CSA members within a 10-mile radius, but the larger goal is to place many more small vertical farms as close as possible to where people live and work.

“Our whole entire mission is to move the farm, not the food,” Area 2’s community partnerships manager Jackie Potter said.


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