How I’ve rethought basil (and food production) as I know it

No items found.

“We’re building a farm in a grocery store,” Rob Laing shared at my onboarding meeting. He’s our CEO and founder and it was my first day on the job as Project Manager for Farm.One’s custom farm builds.

This wasn’t any grocery store though, this was a brand new Whole Foods Market in Manhattan West.

When I joined the team, all of the designs and engineering were complete for the mini-farm. It was a three-level deep water culture system designed specifically to match the look and feel of Whole Foods. All that was left to do was to order all of the materials and start building.

Seemed simple, right? Wrong. One big problem: it was March 2020 and New York City was in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It felt invigorating to be working with a team that was pushing the boundaries of food production, working in a high profile store like Whole Foods Market. That fresh, new-to-the-job energy was going to be put to good use - Farm.One was building a hydroponic farm in a grocery store, right in the middle of a pandemic.

What metal fabrication vendors are even open during this time? How are we going to keep the team safe during construction? Is the store even going to open on time? Managing a project from home during a pandemic felt a lot like swinging at a piñata with a blind fold. But hey, the whole point of the game is to swing, even if you have no idea if you’re in the right place.

One of the renderings of the farm facade.

In the end, the team knocked it out of the park and the vision of building a farm in a grocery store became a reality. A huge thank you to Kate Lodvikov, Engineering Manager, and Dan Hubel, Designer, for all of the hours they spent going on site, even when it didn’t feel the safest, and carefully piecing together the stainless steel facade and installing the glass doors of the mini-farm.


The farm when it came to life!


In July 2020, the store opened and the basil was ready for its close up! I remember smelling the plants as I approached the in-store farm for the first time. I didn’t even have the farm in sight - but I could smell it. This mini-farm takes “fresh groceries” to a whole different level, year-round, no matter the weather conditions outside.

The Blue Spice Basil we grow in the farm is harvested just 10 steps away from the pizzeria, where it adds fragrance and flavor to their dishes. Another 10 steps away is the cocktail bar, where bartenders serve their Whole Foods Mule, topped with Farm.One Blue Spice Basil. On the day of the opening, the team celebrated with a morning Mule, the first time many of us had seen each other since the pandemic began.


The Farm.One team celebrating with the Whole Foods Mule.


With this first farm project completed, I can’t help but think: What other places can be transformed into sites of food production? What other plants could we grow? What ways could all of our other 700+ crops be used? (And why have I accepted sub-par basil my whole life?!)

A Whole Foods Mule, topped with Blue Spice Basil

No items found.

How I’ve rethought basil (and food production) as I know it

Ina Tubilleja

No items found.

“We’re building a farm in a grocery store,” Rob Laing shared at my onboarding meeting. He’s our CEO and founder and it was my first day on the job as Project Manager for Farm.One’s custom farm builds.

This wasn’t any grocery store though, this was a brand new Whole Foods Market in Manhattan West.

When I joined the team, all of the designs and engineering were complete for the mini-farm. It was a three-level deep water culture system designed specifically to match the look and feel of Whole Foods. All that was left to do was to order all of the materials and start building.

Seemed simple, right? Wrong. One big problem: it was March 2020 and New York City was in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It felt invigorating to be working with a team that was pushing the boundaries of food production, working in a high profile store like Whole Foods Market. That fresh, new-to-the-job energy was going to be put to good use - Farm.One was building a hydroponic farm in a grocery store, right in the middle of a pandemic.

What metal fabrication vendors are even open during this time? How are we going to keep the team safe during construction? Is the store even going to open on time? Managing a project from home during a pandemic felt a lot like swinging at a piñata with a blind fold. But hey, the whole point of the game is to swing, even if you have no idea if you’re in the right place.

One of the renderings of the farm facade.

In the end, the team knocked it out of the park and the vision of building a farm in a grocery store became a reality. A huge thank you to Kate Lodvikov, Engineering Manager, and Dan Hubel, Designer, for all of the hours they spent going on site, even when it didn’t feel the safest, and carefully piecing together the stainless steel facade and installing the glass doors of the mini-farm.


The farm when it came to life!


In July 2020, the store opened and the basil was ready for its close up! I remember smelling the plants as I approached the in-store farm for the first time. I didn’t even have the farm in sight - but I could smell it. This mini-farm takes “fresh groceries” to a whole different level, year-round, no matter the weather conditions outside.

The Blue Spice Basil we grow in the farm is harvested just 10 steps away from the pizzeria, where it adds fragrance and flavor to their dishes. Another 10 steps away is the cocktail bar, where bartenders serve their Whole Foods Mule, topped with Farm.One Blue Spice Basil. On the day of the opening, the team celebrated with a morning Mule, the first time many of us had seen each other since the pandemic began.


The Farm.One team celebrating with the Whole Foods Mule.


With this first farm project completed, I can’t help but think: What other places can be transformed into sites of food production? What other plants could we grow? What ways could all of our other 700+ crops be used? (And why have I accepted sub-par basil my whole life?!)

A Whole Foods Mule, topped with Blue Spice Basil

No items found.

More videos

How I’ve rethought basil (and food production) as I know it

Ina Tubilleja

Ina Tubilleja

No items found.

“We’re building a farm in a grocery store,” Rob Laing shared at my onboarding meeting. He’s our CEO and founder and it was my first day on the job as Project Manager for Farm.One’s custom farm builds.

This wasn’t any grocery store though, this was a brand new Whole Foods Market in Manhattan West.

When I joined the team, all of the designs and engineering were complete for the mini-farm. It was a three-level deep water culture system designed specifically to match the look and feel of Whole Foods. All that was left to do was to order all of the materials and start building.

Seemed simple, right? Wrong. One big problem: it was March 2020 and New York City was in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It felt invigorating to be working with a team that was pushing the boundaries of food production, working in a high profile store like Whole Foods Market. That fresh, new-to-the-job energy was going to be put to good use - Farm.One was building a hydroponic farm in a grocery store, right in the middle of a pandemic.

What metal fabrication vendors are even open during this time? How are we going to keep the team safe during construction? Is the store even going to open on time? Managing a project from home during a pandemic felt a lot like swinging at a piñata with a blind fold. But hey, the whole point of the game is to swing, even if you have no idea if you’re in the right place.

One of the renderings of the farm facade.

In the end, the team knocked it out of the park and the vision of building a farm in a grocery store became a reality. A huge thank you to Kate Lodvikov, Engineering Manager, and Dan Hubel, Designer, for all of the hours they spent going on site, even when it didn’t feel the safest, and carefully piecing together the stainless steel facade and installing the glass doors of the mini-farm.


The farm when it came to life!


In July 2020, the store opened and the basil was ready for its close up! I remember smelling the plants as I approached the in-store farm for the first time. I didn’t even have the farm in sight - but I could smell it. This mini-farm takes “fresh groceries” to a whole different level, year-round, no matter the weather conditions outside.

The Blue Spice Basil we grow in the farm is harvested just 10 steps away from the pizzeria, where it adds fragrance and flavor to their dishes. Another 10 steps away is the cocktail bar, where bartenders serve their Whole Foods Mule, topped with Farm.One Blue Spice Basil. On the day of the opening, the team celebrated with a morning Mule, the first time many of us had seen each other since the pandemic began.


The Farm.One team celebrating with the Whole Foods Mule.


With this first farm project completed, I can’t help but think: What other places can be transformed into sites of food production? What other plants could we grow? What ways could all of our other 700+ crops be used? (And why have I accepted sub-par basil my whole life?!)

A Whole Foods Mule, topped with Blue Spice Basil

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