A salad is only as good as the fresh ingredients that go into it. And, of course, local ingredients tend to be higher quality than produce that’s been shipped around the world. For city dwellers, access to things like farm-fresh tomatoes and just-picked greens is often limited. That’s one of the reasons Eric Haley and Viraj Puri started their hyper-local urban agriculture company Gotham Greens in 2008. The other reason? To grow premium-quality produce using sustainable methods and renewable energy. This vision helped them expand their business from a single, small greenhouse in New York to 170,000 square feet of high-tech rooftop greenhouses across New York and Chicago.
Haley and Puri hope that the success of Gotham Greens can bring much-needed change to an industry that often puts an emphasis on convenience and scale at the expense of our environment—and, quite frankly, taste. Through their sophisticated greenhouses, Gotham Greens provides local customers (which range from restaurants to Whole Foods Markets) with produce year-round, without the ecological toll of long-distance shipping. There’s also proof in the product. After all, when the lettuce on your plate wasn’t just grown in the same city but just around the block, it’s going to taste better.
Photographer Charissa Fay hits the road in the new sustainably designed BMW i3 to visit Haley and Puri at their Williamsburg greenhouse and take a closer look at the tech that goes into growing Gotham Greens’ vegetables. Watch the video above to see more and to preview how both the agriculture and automobile industries are leading the way on innovation and changing the world.