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Denver Restaurants Welcome Warehouse-to-Table Produce

Lakewood's Infinite Harvest can customize the flavor profile of lettuce—sustainably.

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You’ve heard the term “farm-to-table,” but how about “warehouse-to-table”? No, this isn’t Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; it’s Infinite Harvest, a vertical-hydroponic farm in Lakewood. The farm, which harvested its first crops in March, has the means to eventually produce 65,000 pounds of greens and herbs per month with little environmental impact. That’s because the company uses stacked shelves to grow its produce—no soil, arable land, or harmful chemicals required. This spring, restaurants such as Beast & Bottle, Trillium, and Session Kitchen began integrating the fresh veggies into their dishes.

Infinite Harvest isn’t the first company to bring agriculture inside city limits (see the GrowHaus, Ekar Farm, and the Urban Farm at Stapleton), but it is the first in Colorado to develop vertical farming for large-scale production. That’s possible because of founders Tommy Romano (who studied bioastronautics—how to keep humans alive in space) and Sean McVay’s precisely engineered growing system. Romano developed LED light fixtures and water-recycling systems that allow for meticulous regulation of temperature, water, humidity, nutrient levels, and light. This ensures the best possible growing environment for every crop and eliminates problems such as pests, mold, and root rot. Translation: There’s no need for pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.

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These optimum growing conditions result in shorter growing cycles; most Infinite Harvest crops go from seedling to harvest in less than 45 days, as opposed to the three to four months typical for open-field farming. And since all the growing happens indoors, it can be done year-round with no risk of frost, heat, drought, or hailstorms. “With the changing environment impacting the food supply chain and the population growth predicted over the next 50 years, there needs to be a fundamental shift in how we grow food,” Romano says.

This dominion over growing conditions also allows Infinite Harvest to tailor products to its clients’ individual needs. If a chef wants a particularly sweet butter lettuce, for example, the team can adjust variables to achieve the desired flavor profile. Chefs are already clamoring for the farm’s herbs and baby arugula (recently featured in Beast & Bottle’s lamb ragu), and plans are underway to expand to a larger facility next year. Watch for the company to implement even more space-age ideas right here on terra firma.

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