GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On the upper floors of 22 Ridge St. in downtown Glens Falls, a project has taken root and grown quickly. The city’s Economic Development Department has been working with a renewability and sustainability firm to create a fully indoor farm.
Re-Nuble, the New York City-based environmental PR firm working with the city to build the indoor hydroponic farm system, recently shared an update on how materials and operational expenses are being handled. The shelving is in place at the formerly vacant third-floor space, located above the [farmacy] restobar restaurant. A lot of decision-making goes into what’s holding the basil, lettuce and other produce, and helping it grow.
“For material goods, it is important to design a system that can reuse as many inputs as possible, creating a closed-loop agricultural system,” described Glens Falls Vertical Farm Manager Josh Fabian. “For the Glens Falls Urban Pilot we chose 1020 trays and sheet pots that can be reused, ensuring that waste is reduced to its maximum capacity.”
At the Glens Falls farm, a nutrient solution is used to encourage plant growth. Runoff from the process is then recirculated into the next batch of nutrients, rather than being drained out as wastewater. Doing so requires less new fertilizer to be added over time than might otherwise be the case.
Fabian also laid out some of the size and space considerations that come with planning out the hydroponic farm. The 300-square-foot space has its limits, but the keyword “vertical” might tell you that height is always a factor when planning an indoor farm.
“I divide systems that I see into three categories,” Fabian said. “The reason I treat them separately is it makes it clear what ability is needed to access the crops.”
Category 1 is for crops that are all stacked within reach – as they will be in Glens Falls. This category includes shelves stacked high enough for employees to care for and harvest without any kind of help, which saves time and space.
Category 2 is where ladders, scaffolding and elevation platforms can come into play. This category is for spaces where produce is stacked high, but within 6 feet of reach. Fabian notes that workers often feel safer if scaling a ladder or riding a vertical extending platform within that range.
The third category is for facilities where crops can tower 10 feet or higher. While this type is the most expensive due to equipment cost, it can allow the use of high ceilings (where applicable) to reduce the footprint that the farm makes – or maximize how many plants can grow there.
The vertical farm is expected to be fully operational at some point in May or June. Glens Falls Economic Development Director Jeff Flagg has described the project as a great way to get fresh, local produce to downtown restaurants that might have a hard time getting it, even in an area with many rural farming communities nearby. If Raul’s Mexican Grill on nearby Glen Street needs some fresh cilantro, getting it could be as easy as sending someone a block away, rather than scheduling a dropoff from a supplier.
When the vertical farm does open, it will be by way of a year-long pilot program. After that, it is not yet known who will be in charge of its operation.