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From Basement To Table? Underground Farm Grows Specialty Items In Manhattan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Going from farm to table has never been so fast in New York City.

A farm using no soil in an unusual location is supplying dozens of the city's top restaurants with specialty crops.

To get to the farm, you need to take an elevator or stairs, because it's beneath a Tribeca building.

PHOTOS: Underground Farm In Tribeca

The 1,200 square foot hydroponic farm, called "Farm.One", is providing crops to 30 New York City restaurants. Most of them have Michelin stars.

"Most of their alternative vendors are shipping products from farms in the Midwest or in New Jersey or Long Island that aren't as local as we are, in the heart of Tribeca," said Marissa Siefkes, sales director of Farm.One.

There are 120 different specialty crops, including microgreens, herbs and edible flowers. Some of them were grown as requests from chefs.

"If they're interested in particular type of shiso from Japan, for example, we are able to find that seed and grow it here locally for them," Siefkes said.

Five days a week, the staff starts to harvest around 6:30 a.m. They then deliver the products by foot or subway right to the restaurants.

"You probably aren't used to tasting produce that is cut just hours earlier," Siefkes said. "Even if it is at a farmers market in the morning, it has been on a truck, it has been in transit for a while. Our produce is really fresh."

No windows means no sunlight in the basement farm, but operations director Justin Randolph says that's no problem.

"We use these LED light. LED lights are on timers, so they simulate a day length, so they will be on a long period of time and go off at night to simulate night time," Randolph said.

Since it's a hydroponic farm, there's no soil either. Some vegetation requires something called fleximix, but all get their nutrients from the farm's watering system.

"Actually, use more water doing our laundry than we do on our farm, so we are very sustainable," said Randolph. "Water is on timers, so it is constantly cycling through the system and dose it with nutrients to keep our plants happy."

Who knew Tribeca is where you could find the closest farm to most New York City tables?

For more information about the underground farm, see the Farm.One website.

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