A hydroponic garden and an Airstream trailer might seem an unlikely combination, but for urban farmer and architect Ben Greene of Durham, N.C., his life wouldn’t be complete without both. The restored Airstream will soon become a working kitchen serving up urban farm-sourced meals, and is part of a larger urban farm grocery market Greene is calling the Farmery. The Airstream café, the first phase of the project, opens Jan. 15, 2016, and we’ve got the details from Greene himself.
Tell me about your new café. You’re using a renovated Airstream trailer?
We are using a restored vintage Airstream trailer as our kitchen for a few reasons. Of course, the appeal of an old Airstream is a big part of the decision, but it also allows us to begin serving customers while the construction of the Farmery is underway.
The café will use food sourced from a CropBox. How does this innovative urban-farm concept work?
While the Farmery is under construction, we’re sourcing products that would be grown onsite at the Farmery from a local CropBox operator. The CropBox is a high-density hydroponic farm in a shipping container manufactured by Williamson Greenhouses. We will be using CropBoxes as our growing system at the Farmery once we finish construction.
The CropBox supplies all our greens, herbs, lettuces and mushrooms, which comprise the majority of our ingredients. The coffee is sourced from Counter Culture Coffee, a roasting facility located a mile from the Farmery. Bread dough, vine crops, and items that can’t be grown at the Farmery will be sourced as locally as possible.
What can people expect to find on the Farmery menu?
We are featuring healthy flat breads, hearty salad bowls, pho soups, coffee products and smoothies. The Airstream kitchen will offer items not normally offered in “fast casual” style restaurants, such as gourmet mushrooms, purslane, sorrel and watercress. We’re excited to have CropBox operators nearby to be able to still have the fresh daily harvests that we will have after the Farmery has finished construction.
Your location is unique—Research Triangle Park. Why was this location important to the Farmery cafe?
We are the first cafe/restaurant located in Research Triangle Park, the largest research park in the world. Previously, you’d find cafeterias at the research facilities but not restaurants that were open to the public. We’re located in front of the fantastic Frontier building, a five-story open shared workspace designed as a place where workers at RTP can convene and collaborate. This is part of a much larger development at RTP called Park Center.
What will the café experience offer?
Diners can expect to dine on items like Farmery Grown Herb Roasted Oyster Mushrooms or Farmery Grown Rainbow Chard rolls stuffed with Farmery Grown herb marinated, slow-cooked vegetables and Carolina Rice.
We’ll be open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and during special events at the Frontier. Once construction is finished, the Farmery will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. We are scheduled to open in mid-January, and we’d love to have you visit! Look for us at 800 Park Offices Drive, Research Triangle Park, N.C.