Urban farming reaching new heights in Buffalo

A business duo is growing 250 romaine lettuce heads from inside a north Buffalo garage

Romaine Lettuce Heads

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Matt Latham and Jeremy Witt aren’t your average farm boys. Their plot is in a small north Buffalo garage, and their crop? Romaine lettuce heads, about 250 of them so far.

The duo met because they were dating sisters. Fast forward eight years, and they’re both married and living in Buffalo. Now they’re not only brother-in-laws, they’re business partners.

“Our goal is to really provide fresh local produce at the lowest possible cost so that everyone can eat well,” Witt told News 4.

The most efficient way to achieve that goal, they say? Growing up, literally.

It’s called vertical farming, and it’s a method that’s becoming more and more popular in urban areas.

Vertical Fresh Farms

Witt studied a large scale vertical farm in Chicago and thought they might be able to accomplish something similar in Western New York. That project turned into Vertical Fresh Farms.

“One day, he came to me with this idea. And it took a little convincing, but we eventually decided that we can do it and it could be a successful business,” Latham said.

Their grow operation uses a system called Aquaponics, making it highly sustainable.

Below the plants are 200 Koi fish; the waste created by the fish is pumped back into the plants, acting as a fertilizer.

“The water that we put in is all the water that we’re going to use,” Latham said.

Compared to conventional farming, vertical farming generally uses about 98 percent less water.

Vertical Fresh Farms is expanding, and plans to grow a variety of different foods. Eventually, Witt envisions their produce at local restaurants.

“I think with Buffalo being such a foodie community and being such a close knit community, I think they’re going to really engage us,” Witt told News 4.

For more information on Vertical Fresh Farms, check out its Facebook page.

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