Australians Turn to Vertical Farming as Farm-to-Table Strategy in the City


Looking for farm-to-table dining? Here’s how Urban Green Sydney’s Noah Verin and Ross Lusted from Woodcut restaurant at Crown Sydney are getting fresh veggies to your dish within hours — through a vertical farming strategy.

Noah Verin is the owner of Urban Green Sydney, the city’s first commercially oriented vertical farm.

“Most people when they drive into a car park, they would not expect to find a farm down here” he says. “To be honest, it’s a fantastic place to grow produce because the conditions in the car park don’t change very much.”

“Instead of sunlight, we have LED lights, which are quite efficient. Obviously, in nature you’ve got a constant supply of fresh air. We’re changing the air over in this room roughly every minute.”

“When the product reaches the restaurant, it’s two or three hours old, or even an hour old, or even 10 minutes old, compared to if it leaves a traditional farm, goes to the market, goes to an agent, from an agent to a providore, from a providore to a restaurant. You’re looking at least, a couple of days from leaving the farm to getting to the restaurant.”

“Being an ex-chef, it’s a chef’s wonderland” he says. “It takes a lot of willpower not to be picking it all the time”

Ross Lusted, acclaimed chef and owner of nearby Woodcut, is a satisfied customer. “The basil he grows is fantastic,” he says. “It has a really peppery taste that we serve with the white peaches and Bharata.”

“The fact that it’s still in the soil, it’s alive, and I think flavor dissipates once the product is actually cut” he adds. “Flavor wise it really suits our needs. Plus, it also is literally 100 meters down the road and I love the idea of that.”

According to Noah, Urban Farm Sydney is currently about 85% sustainable. “Vertical farms use 90-95% less water than traditional farms… Obviously, in Australia, that’s a very precious resource” he says. “We use recyclable paper sleeves instead of the single-use plastic sleeves, which usually goes around the herbs.”

He remarks that although LED lights have come a long way, “I would still very much like all of our energy to come from renewable sources. And that’s definitely something we’re thinking about all the time” he says. “If we ever move to a larger warehouse, we will be covering it in solar panels.”

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