Karen E. Varga, Editor

I still remember a time when the only décor a chef would accouter his plates with was parsley — at least at the restaurants I went to. I hardly gave the little green sprig a second glance as I ate the rest of my meal. But there’s been a revolution over the years, with the little green “decorations” playing a more expansive role in the foods we eat. Recently, I went to a five-course tasting at a local restaurant with a stellar reputation, and my expectations were high.

Having never had this type of meal, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately, the waiter explained the types of dishes that the chef would be preparing and the order of the plates, so we knew more or less how it would go. As the dishes came out, I noticed that, regardless of whether it was pasta, fish, meat or dessert, there were colorful microgreens, herbs or both accompanying nearly every dish. And we ate every last one; each added a spark of flavor and complemented the other elements on the plate. For their size, they certainly packed quite the punch.

Rob Laing, CEO and founder of Farm.One, is well aware of the culinary power and popularity of these tiny plants. The vertical farm has grown 580 different varieties of rare herbs, edible flowers and microgreens in approximately 1,500 square feet of growing space across two locations in the heart of New York City. Chefs appreciate that they can get fresh herbs, edible flowers and microgreens delivered to their restaurants sometimes mere minutes after being harvested, and have a much wider selection than they would if they relied solely on seasonal items. This month, we’re sharing Farm.One's story.

Also in this issue, we have the second installment of the Urban Agriculture series, which focuses on lighting in vertical farms and greenhouses. Leslie Halleck shares her take on how to clearly communicate your production methods to your customers. If you’re interested in growing lettuce, don’t miss Christopher Currey’s Hydroponic Production Primer this month. We hear from growing media guru Brian Jackson of North Carolina State University in our article on wood fiber, and food safety expert Lisa Lupo on the Produce Safety Rule. We round out our issue with growers’ perspectives on maintaining the cold chain and the latest from The Produce Moms.

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Twitter: @Karen_GIE