Hydroponic farm takes root in east Baltimore
Tucked away in an east Baltimore parking lot is a green and white shipping container. Believe it or not, there’s a farm inside.
The new high-tech farm is taking root in Baltimore and it’s making fresh, local produce available year round.
Seedlings take root in a 66-degree shipping container outfitted as a hydroponic farm at Urban Pastoral.
“We’re able to create a closed-loop system where the water’s recirculating and we’re giving the plants the exact amount of water and nutrients that they need,” said J.J. Reidy, with Urban Pastoral.
Reidy said growing greens and herbs horizontally maximizes production, adding that Urban Pastoral can raise the equivalent of two football fields of crops in the 300-square-foot space.
“This allows us to deploy our facilities in areas where you would normally never be able to grow plants. We’re at the center of east Baltimore at the Humanim Building in a shipping container, and we’re growing 3,500-5,000 plants in here,” Reidy said.
The process can move food from farm to table in a matter of hours. Some Baltimore bib lettuce made the trip in about 20 minutes to the Modern Cookhouse downtown, which is one of three restaurants served by Urban Pastoral. They all fall within an eight-mile radius of the farm facility.
“We get greens in and they come in with the dirt still on them so you can tell it’s that fresh,” Modern Cookhouse chef Michael Gliniecki said.
Gliniecki said that it’s exciting to have access to fresh local produce year-round, even in winter.
“You can taste the quality, and it’s less pesticides and whatnot,” Gliniecki said.
“When we’re giving people live produce. It’s lasting for two and a half weeks at least. They’re cutting off the root system and it’s alive until it’s on their plate,” Reidy said.
The founders of Urban Pastoral are adding more to their plate. They’re planning to expand operations to a Baltimore warehouse to increase production and launch their own restaurant in Remington, expanding opportunities to move food from farm to fork faster.
Urban Pastoral also runs a cooperative that sells its produce. For more information, visit their website.