Radicle Farm Company
Radicle Farm provides Local Roots NYC with salad mix throughout the Winter season. They select seeds for salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and more based on flavor and appearance. Their products are convenient, vibrant, and energizing. They’ve chosen growing facilities – 60,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse space in New Jersey and upstate New York – intentionally to employ rural and urban farmers, maximize the growing potential of otherwise forgotten spaces, and provide fresh greens to their customers in four major metropolitan regions.
You can order your Radicle Farm salad mix here.
Growing: All Natural
Location: Utica, NY and Newark, NJ
INTERVIEW: Tony Gibbons, Co Founder
When did you start Radicle Farm?
We started Radicle in January 2014. Hard to believe it’s been almost 4 years already!
Did ever think you would be owning two greenhouse farms?
My goal as a kid was much closer to being a train conductor or centerfielder for the Yankees. That being said, I was reminded recently that I spent free time in college writing business plans “for fun,” although those were generally for breweries or restaurants.
Why go greenhouse instead of regular soil farming? Benefits?
There are many benefits to both greenhouses and traditional farming. Our greenhouses utilize a closed loop irrigation system, which means less fertilizers and pesticides than conventional farms. For us, the most important benefit is that it enables us to grow year round.
How many varieties of greens do you farm?
We’re constantly experimenting with different varieties of lettuces, mizunas, kales, chards, herbs, micro greens etc. We have about 20 different varieties at the moment in production, and have at some point or another done at least a short run of over 50 varieties of leafy greens.
Even inside a greenhouse, do seasons affect the kind of crops you can grow?
Seasonality continues to play an enormous role in what and how we plant. While having a greenhouse allows us to avoid frost/snow in the winter, the temperature and light levels still change drastically throughout the year. In the warmer/brighter months there are certain varieties of mizunas and herbs that do exceptionally well, while the lettuces and heartier greens can struggle with either bolting or poor germination. In the colder/lower light months crops like kales and chards can thrive, while others will have a hard time putting on consistent growth due to the reduced light. We adjust the seed varieties and planting levels to accommodate.
Which is your favorite crop and how do you usually eat it?
I tend to think seasonally for those things. In the spring/summer I like our Spring Spice (Arugula, Red Vein Mizuna, Mustard Greens) with summer fruits, like watermelon, and maybe feta and jalapeños or something. In colder months I prefer something heartier like spinach, kale, chard, and beet greens, usually with whatever we have around the house (nuts, cheese, dried fruit), or some roasted vegetables like squash or carrots. Always good with either a lemon or apple cider vinaigrette in my opinion (lemon or apple cider vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, shallot, salt, pepper)
Why are your greens so special and loved by all your costumers? (You have great reviews) Our goal is for everything we sell to be fresh, flavorful, colorful and distinct. We want to strike a balance between greens that are familiar with those that are a bit more esoteric, so the experience can be both easy and convenient while still feeling new and interesting. Above all we try to grow and make mixes that we want to eat ourselves. Hopefully that resonates with our customers.
What is the best part of working on a farm? You get to take produce home which is pretty cool. The oxygen and sunlight levels can be fantastic inside the greenhouse. Also, when you feel stuck while starting at your computer you can plausibly take a break to go check out some plants.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start their own greenhouse farm business? Do a lot of research, and really learn the farming industry, not just local greenhouses. Avoid looking at yield projections or sales potential through rose colored glasses, a spreadsheet can be adjusted to look great through a couple key strokes.
Any tips on selecting greens at their local markets? Try to shop based on what you think looks good or in season rather than just from a list. Swapping in and out different types of greens in a recipe is easy. Baby greens, herbs, and micro greens are all easy ways to really liven up a plate with color and freshness.
What are some cooking and organizational tips you have in the kitchen that help you cook/organize and better manage your time? Having the ingredients for an easy vinaigrette (vinegar or citrus, oil, binding agent like dijon mustard, shallot) around means that even when I don’t have time to cook I can order something on my way home and then put together a salad and it feels like a much healthier/more well rounded meal. I implore every one to have a chef’s knife that you love, and then take care of it. It’s better to have fewer tools that will last and work well than a whole collection of ones that don’t stack up.