Want to Know Who Grows Your Produce?
Area 2 Farms, a carbon-friendly urban farming operation in Arlington, has a CSA program that delivers.
Just off South Four Mile Run, amid auto repair shops and next to a doggy day care, is a farm. You would miss it if you were looking for rolling fields or a red barn. Area 2 Farms is an urban farm of the indoor variety, where plants grow in vertical rows, stacked on top of each other, safely protected from adverse weather and marauding insects. It’s an efficient little operation, designed to maximize space while producing nutritious, organic crops.
Nate Arias, one of the (excuse the term) founding farmers, has a degree in controlled environment growing from the University of Arizona. He and co-founder Tyler Baras, the company’s chief science officer, are immensely proud of this new breed of sustainable agriculture. Arias points to the lack of pesticides—and the fact that Arlingtonians can know who grows their food, in the same way they know who repairs their cars.
Working with a crew of six to nine employees, Area 2 Farms provides fresh-picked herbs, lettuces, root vegetables and microgreens to more than 100 local households per week. Many families have a weekly “green basket” delivered to their doorsteps as part of the farm’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.
Studies estimate that most produce in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles before it is consumed. Here, veggies ranging from mixed greens to radishes are picked at the peak of ripeness and delivered within 24 hours, to recipients who live less than 10 miles away.
For those who are skeptical of the concept, a tour (offered free to the public) is illuminating. Housed inside a nondescript building, the farm uses a rotating hydroponic system—essentially a vertical conveyor belt—to grow plants in ever-changing lighting conditions that replicate sun exposure outdoors.
Since its debut a little over a year ago, Area 2 Farms has gained a locavore following that includes gardeners, large families and single urban dwellers. The founders hope to replicate the concept in other parts of the country, believing that everyone deserves access to fresh produce grown in their own communities. The company’s slogan: Instead of moving food to people, we’ve moved the farm.
Funny that the space it occupies once held a legal document storage facility. Arias smiles at the irony of going from dead paper to living crops in a generation.