NMP#51: Trends in Urban Farming with Rob Laing

Today I’m talking with the founder of Farm One, Rob Laing, about trends in urban farming. Learn how to use LED lights to grow your own fresh herbs year-round. It will turn your everyday dishes into a bright, colorful, and delicious plate.

Promo image for Episode 51 of the Namely Marly Podcast featuring Rob Laing

I have a fascination with gardening. Some day I hope to cultivate large yields of produce. Between now and then I’m cultivating my green thumb through herbs. And to be honest, it’s a great place to star because I can keep them going year-round! There is a trick to keeping herbs alive indoors. I’m not a master yet, but I’m working on it!

That’s why I reached out to Rob Laing, he’s founder of Farm.One and occasional podcaster himself at Plant Gourmet, where he interviews various plant-based chefs.

Farm One is an indoor, artificially lit, hydroponic farm, located right in the middle of Manhattan’s financial district.

A Change In Diet

Rob describes himself as a technical guy who loves food. His love of food combined with some bad eating habits caused him to gain weight. Between the excess weight and the demands of his work, he found himself getting sick a lot.

Then one day he radically changed his diet, with an emphasis on fresh, whole, plant-based foods.

He discovered plant-based when he read the book Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman.

And guess what? After he changed his diet his allergies went away, his skin got better, and he lost weight.

He went through the Matthew Kenney culinary program, called Plant Lab. It teaches raw, plant-based eating. It’s definitely on my list to do some day as well!

Basically, Rob immersed himself in plant-based living. It was through this immersive experience he decided to grow his own ingredients.

Herb Nerds

I don’t consider myself an herb nerd, but I’m definitely a wanna-be! I’m an herb nerd in training! Rob, on the other hand, has achieved the coveted nerd status. That’s because, not only does he know and understand herbs, he grows them…for a living!

His urban farm provides high-quality herbs to some of the best restaurants in New York city. Rob talks about his passion for discovering herbs and sharing them with people who’ve never tried them. Or rediscovering parts of herbs you already have tried. For example, did you know you can eat the flower on a mint plant? Mint grows almost like a weed in most areas, so it’s a great one to get started on if you’re new to herbs in general.

The Gatherer Within

We’ve lost a part of our lives. The part where we know how to grow and gather our own food. Our lives are so busy and growing a garden seems like the last thing we have time for.

But you don’t have to start with a full-blown garden. Start with herbs. Growing your own mint and picking a few sprigs and adding them to your tea can be a powerful feeling.

As much as we are makers, as I discussed in last week’s episode on Facing Your Fears, Rob reminds us that we are gatherers too. It’s almost like a study in  anthropology.

I went blueberry picking this summer and realized that there is a little hunter in each of us. I enjoyed searching for the best berries and gathering them in my basket.

Rob talks about one of the most exciting things about plant-based food for him — how colorful your plate becomes.

The best way to make plates colorful and exciting is by using exciting, colorful, ingredients. — Rob Laing

Urban farming can combine the elements of the city, but distribution of super markets has given us access to fewer and fewer ingredients. Urban farming has the opportunity to bring back that variety.

Rob suggests that we should be bringing all these ingredients into the grocery stores — herbs, edible flowers, micro greens, and more. Even within that narrow band of produce, Farm.One has grown over 300 products. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, and corn. There’s a hundred different kind of watermelon.

Farm.One is currently on the high end of the market, working mostly with top end restauarants. But the trends for urban farming technology are making it more and more feasible and efficient that they could someday expand distribution to others.

Your Urban Farm

Rob talks about the different trends in urban farming, some of which you can use to grow herbs inside your own home. Hydroponics is basically growing plants without soil, in a nutrient-rich water solution. Indoor gardening is using LED lights which are highly efficient and can help you grown your herbs indoors.

We go into all of this and more in today’s disscussion. I really loved this because I’m so into growing my own herbs and I love the idea of finding more ways we can grow our own vegetables, regardless of climate.

So let’s get straight to it. Here’s today’s feature interview with Rob Laing on Trends in Urban Farming.

Health + Happiness,


Show Notes — Trends in Urban Farming

We talked about several resources in today’s episode on Trends in Urban Farming. These are:

Check out the other Namely Marly Podcast episodes.

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That’s it for today’s podcast. As always, thanks so much for joining in the discussion!

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