Uriah's Urban Farms

Fresh produce grows vertically, and hydroponically, at Uriah’s Urban Farms. The system allows for sustainable indoor agriculture / photo by Katy Lynch

A leader in the movement to bring sustainable indoor agriculture to urban centers, Uriah’s Urban Farms strives to get the most benefit out of fresh food in the most responsible way.

Florida Food & Farm — since our beginning, an advocate for sustainable ag, small farmers and ranchers — talked with “Farmer Dave” Smiles. Our 10 questions and his answers are below.

Uriah's Urban Farm and their vertical growing system

Uriah’s vertical growing system allows for high-density, sustainable indoor agriculture.

Name: Dave Smiles “Farmer Dave”
Company: Uriah’s Urban Farms
Title: CEO and Founder

Question: What, exactly, is the iVertical Farm growing system?
Answer: The iVertical Farm is a multidisciplinary cultivation platform for high-density, sustainable indoor vertical agriculture.

Q: How is this system superior to others?
A: Other indoor vertical farms utilize one type of growing system. Not the iVertical Farm: Comprised of three different growing systems, the iVertical Farm is both a plant nursery and a food-production system.

Q: What are the three most common farm-to-table foods that Uriah’s provides to restaurants/chefs?
A: The most common is our gorgeous Artisan Lettuce Case, which contains of baby green bibb, red gem romaine, green romaine and red butter crunch. Second would be our Genovese Basil adult potted plants; this is the best basil you’ve ever had. Third would be a tie — between our Spicy Micro-green Blend and our Green Pea Tendrils, with my vote going to the tendrils.

Q: What are the main crops that you provide to commercial clients?
A: Uriah’s offers over 60 varieties of plants grown to order in any of the four product lines: living flats of micro- and petite greens and herbs, living adult potted plants, living vertical-garden potted plants, and harvested aeroponic plants.

Grow lights in a greenhouse ensure that plants enjoy optimum conditions at all times.

Q: What gave you the inspiration for this venture?
A: A lifetime of agri-preneurship experiences has given me a view of the food challenges we face as a society. Our unsustainable consumption of our natural resources and the protection of our environment, as well as poor food quality produced through centralized agri-production and distribution systems, must be addressed as we continue to evolve our food systems.

Q: Please explain “Alive makes the difference.”
A: “Alive” is the ultimate in flavor and nutrition. Nothing can beat eating plants harvested moments before we consume them. Our plants are filled with dense nutrients and rich in essential oils and other organic compounds, all of which the human body needs for proper functionality.

Q: What do you offer to residential clients, and what are the most common crops you deliver/sell to them?
A: The iGarden is our residential product. It consists of a combination of six different full-size potted plants, delivered to your door every week or every other week in a self-contained, recyclable cardboard planter box. It’s your own personal garden, ready to harvest.

Q: Why is the farm called “Uriah’s”?
A: My wife Latoya and I named our oldest son Uriah. Uriah is a special young man who was born with a rare genetic deletion called “Glut 1 deficiency syndrome.” This condition does not allow the brain to effectively process carbohydrates from the body as a source of energy.
When the company was founded, Uriah’s diagnosis had not yet been know, and it was unknown how long Uriah could be around. It just felt right to me and my family to name the company in his honor.
Since Uriah’s was founded, the family has been blessed to get a correct diagnosis of Uriah’s condition and is happy to share that we will enjoy a full lifetime of joy with Uriah in it!

Q: What does “Fresh off the wall” mean?
A: “Fresh off the wall” is the motto the company created to refer to its vertical-garden service. Featured in the customer areas of their clients, these vertical gardens are works of art that are continuously maintained with fresh, ready-to-harvest plants by the company. Uriah’s clients may harvest fresh-to-order plants out of their vertical gardens.

Q: On Uriah’s website, you, Farmer Dave, say, “There’s a big disconnect between farmers and consumers.” Could you explain?
A: Only recently, with the spread of knowledge on the internet and a rise in independent food documentaries, have consumers begun to improve their awareness of how our food systems work.
Farmers are often far removed from where their food ends up, and this distance creates a disconnect between understanding what the consumer wants and the farmers’ ability to educate consumers about their food.

For more information, visit uriahsurbanfarms.com.

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