The Newest in Urban Farming at Ecopia in Campbell

A bounty of lettuces from Ecopia Farms.

Look closely at that bowl of beautiful, baby salad greens.

If only you could reach out and grab a few leaves to taste, you’d be amazed at their sweetness, pepperiness and all-around intensity of flavor.

What makes these lettuces different is that all were grown indoors under LED lights, using a fraction of the water a conventional outdoor farm would.

Ecopia Farms in Campbell is unlike any other agricultural endeavor — housed indoors in a non-descript, out-of-the-way warehouse in Campbell.

Utilizing the latest technology and know-how, it was founded by a couple of tech giants: a former CEO of Solectron, and a former president of Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space.

With water and land increasingly precious commodities, their goal is to create a way of farming that is not only more efficient and sustainable, but replicable in high-density urban areas.

Bay Area chefs already are embracing Ecopia’s products. Some of the area’s most illustrious chefs, including Joshua Skenes of Saison in San Francisco, Charles Phan of the Slanted Door in San Francisco, and Suzette Gresham-Tognetti of Acquerello in San Francisco, are buying the micro herbs and lettuces, which have been grown to their exact specifications.

Believe it or not, those green thread-like herbs are lemongrass.

Red-veined sorrel (center) with a punchy lemon flavor. It's a best-seller.

I had a chance to visit the farm a few weeks ago. More importantly, I got a chance to taste what is being grown. With the micro herbs, especially, it’s hard to fathom that something so delicate and tiny as these can possess such a powerhouse of flavor. The lemongrass, in particular, blew me away. It’s not the usual hard, woody stalk, but tendrils nearly thread-like. Every part is edible. And it just explodes in your mouth with citrus, floral and ginger notes.

With lettuce this flavorful, all you need is olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt to make a fabulous salad.

The good news for consumers is that Ecopia has just begun selling to the public. Find out more about this innovative farm and how you can try the produce in my story in today’s San Francisco Chronicle Home & Garden section.

More Interesting Bay Area Farms: Love Apple Farms

And: Philo Apple Farm

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  • Awesome story! That’s so amazing how sustainable this venture is. I wonder if this will inspire more small farms to go this route?

  • I’m not aware of many farms doing this in my area of the world, but it’s something I do read about. It’s a great idea – particularly doing the winter when outdoor growing is impossible. Thanks for keeping us up to date!

  • How much is their electric bill? Is that why it is so expensive? Kind of like hydroponics but without the water.

  • Wow – these flavors sound amazing. I’m always a little envious of anyone who lives in California. You get such great flavors year round!

  • Ecopia is really doing a great job. Nice to read more about this. Lovely post!

  • Reason number 600,000 why I want to move to SF!

  • They are doing a great job! I have grown these lovely salad leaves, swiss chard, rocket leaves, etc myself. Home grown or grown there sounds really good!

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