GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The third floor of 22 Ridge St. is home to a special project a long time in the works. Above Farmacy restaurant and some other small business spaces, the building’s top floor has sat disused for an unknown number of years – but amidst decaying wallpaper and discarded furniture, something shiny and new is almost complete.
On Friday, city Economic Development Director Jeff Flagg watched as contractors drilled a hole in the roof of the downtown building’s third floor. A crew was hard at work installing a 1-ton heat pump onto the roof of the building and running it into the third floor. That’s just one of the final steps in place at the city’s vertical farm operation, a long time in the making.
“(The building owner) originally donated this space for the purposes of this pilot,” Flagg said. “The pilot was supposed to be finished at least a year ago.”
The pilot program in question is the creation of an indoor, vertical farm inside 22 Ridge St. At the start of the year, Flagg had been optimistic for an early summer opening date for the facility – inside a walled-off cube of space on a floor that is otherwise showing the signs of its age and disuse. Inside that cube, two grow racks have been installed and outfitted with most of what they need to grow herbs, small lettuce varieties, and whatever else might benefit restaurants and markets downtown. The idea is to give the businesses feeding Glens Falls easier access to locally-grown ingredients.
Summer has come and gone, and supply chain issues have throttled a lot of the progress that Flagg was hoping would get done over the last spring. Once Friday’s rooftop work concludes, the only major step left will be getting the farm’s reverse osmosis hydration system up and running. Flagg says that the vertical farm should finally be up and growing by the start of January.
The two grow racks inside the cube are installed on rolling tracks. The farmers overseeing the growing process will move them as needed, using minimal space to care for shelves of small plants growing. The facility has room and equipment ready for two more shelving units in the future.
Flagg says that the third floor is generally believed to have once been used for Masonic gatherings. At some point in time, it came under the ownership of a pair of siblings who had a falling out, resulting in space being walled off between halves of the floor. A Tae Kwon Do martial arts school’s logo is printed on the floor, indicating another purpose that the space gave up on serving years ago.
The vertical farm program comes with a roughly $200K price tag, helped along by $100K from a Smart Cities Innovation Partnership grant applied for by the city in 2020. The city is building the project in cooperation with New York City-based sustainability firm Re-Nuble. NEWS10 spoke with Re-Nuble and the city of Glens Falls in January about how the farm works, and what it will be able to produce.