If you find yourself sitting at the bar in The Standard’s East Village location, it’s inevitable that your eyes will be drawn to the bright blue boxes installed high above the shelves of liquor bottles.
Giving off an aquarium-like glow, these tanks are home not to exotic fish but to some of the most intriguing and beautiful mushrooms that you’ll ever see. You’re looking at the source of the restaurant’s mushrooms, the very ingredients that might end up on your plate, and the future of urban farming.
“Mushrooms are so exciting of a food right now,” said Andrew Carter, CEO and co-founder of Smallhold, the company responsible for those glowing blue boxes and the mushrooms growing within them.
Smallhold’s other co-founder, Adam DeMartino, describes them with a similar sense of admiration: “They’re just generally a mysterious entity.”
“I’ve been growing all sorts of different produce for quite some time, mainly leafy greens and herbs, and then realized that there was this massive amount of interest in the mushroom space right now,” Carter said. He came together with his former University of Vermont roommate, DeMartino, to start exploring the possibilities.