Check in to the Standard East Village Hotel, and you’ll quickly recognize how they take urban farming to a whole new level. They’re highly rated on Trip Advisor for good reasons. Hotel amenities include free wifi, cozy bathrobes, huge TVs, non-smoking rooms, and an on-site mushroom farm, making it the perfect getaway for mushroom lovers, foodies, and sustainability enthusiasts alike!
Located in the East side of Manhattan, The Standard East Village is unlike any hotel in America. The surrounding neighborhood is known for its bustling nightlife, and despite the lively atmosphere of the area, it is hard to believe that a mushroom farm is flourishing amidst the hustle and bustle.
Perched above the bar of the Café Standard, the futuristic mushroom farm is precisely what makes The Standard in East Village so special. The farm consists of several grow bags of oyster mushrooms, all maintained in ideal growing conditions due to the bright blue LED lights and ventilation chamber. The setup keeps the mushrooms in a perfectly humid and sterile environment, ensuring that they grow to their fullest potential.
The farm is not just for display; the hotel’s restaurant harvests the mushrooms and uses them in several dishes. On average, the farm produces around thirty pounds of mushrooms every week. The mushroom-based items on the menu include a delectable mushroom farrow bowl, a creamy mushroom and goat cheese omelet, and their signature mushroom terrine. The terrine is a luxurious pâté made of the hotel’s house-grown blue oyster mushrooms, combined with truffled mustard and served with fresh potato bread.
The best part about the restaurant is that it is open to both hotel guests and the public so that everyone has the opportunity to check out the farm and indulge in the mouthwatering mushroom dishes that they have to offer. Whether you are a mushroom fan or just curious about this unique farm, a visit to The Standard in East Village is an experience you won’t forget.
The mushroom farm at The Standard East Village is all thanks to Smallhold Farms, New York’s first and only organic farm that specializes in creating indoor mushroom farms for small-scale use. Smallhold Farms started growing mushrooms in a recycled shipping container at their base in Brooklyn in 2017, and the company has been expanding ever since. Outside of Brooklyn, they currently operate two other small mushroom farms in Los Angeles, California, and Austin, Texas, producing hundreds of pounds of mushrooms every year. The mushrooms are locally shipped to several grocery stores, including Safeway, Whole Foods Market, and Erewhon, with many delivery options available to neighborhoods close to their farms.
Smallhold’s mission is to educate people about the variety and sustainable nature of fungi while growing local communities of mushroom lovers who share their passion. As they put it, “By growing mushrooms in communities around the country, we’re helping people reconnect with their food, environment, and farmers.”
Smallhold’s first small-scale mushroom farm was with a Manhattan restaurant called Mission Chinese as a collaborative project between chef Angela Dimayuga and Smallhold co-owners Andrew Cater and Adam DeMartino. The inside farm was a massive hit and showcased the potential of their innovative approach to indoor farming. Smallhold then reached out to The Standard back in 2019 with the opportunity to work together and create a mushroom farm in the heart of New York City. The partnership between the metropolitan hotel and the fungus farmers was created to bring mushrooms into the inner city and teach others how simple and sustainable it is to grow mushrooms - even in a place like a hotel. “You can see the full lifecycle of the food that’s on your plate,” Anika Pivarnik, spokesperson for The Standard East Village, tells The Villager. “I think that’s rare, especially in New York City.”
Smallhold’s commitment to sustainability and community-building has been a crucial factor in the success of their indoor mushroom farming model. By partnering with businesses like The Standard hotel, they can promote sustainable food practices and bring their produce to a broader audience. Smallhold’s work demonstrates how innovative and sustainable farming practices can be scaled down to meet the needs of urban communities while also fostering a more sustainable food system.
Small-scale farming in indoor spaces, like the mushroom farm at The Standard East Village, promotes locally sourced and sustainable food systems. The demand for fresh produce continues to grow as urban populations also increase. Since the limited space in cities makes traditional farming practices difficult, small-scale farming can utilize specified techniques to maximize the amount of produce grown in a smaller area. Urban farming tends to be a more sustainable practice than traditional farming since it reduces the need for long-distance transportation and land usage. In the long run, these practices give more economic opportunities for the local communities and increase food security in places where fresh produce is not as available.
Beyond their mushroom farm and restaurant menu, The Standard hotel also hosts many events relevant to their work with Smallhold Farms. Pivarnik said she “wanted to curate programming that was able to celebrate mushrooms as a food source, mushrooms as a healing medicine through psychedelic therapy, and then also touch on the fashion and design inspiration that they have.” The Standard had several happenings in their February Mushroom Madness event, complimentary to all hotel guests. They led a variety of fungi-themed talks such as ‘Mycelial Evolution: How Psychedelics Catalyze Transformation,’ a panel discussion hosted by Colin Pugh, the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society, featuring several other prominent psychedelic leaders of New York. This was the first time the hotel had hosted a psychedelic-themed talk. However, the occasion was rather fitting considering that New York introduced a psychedelics legislation aimed at decriminalizing psilocybin and other entheogenic substances earlier this year.
Smallhold Farms hosted their own event, teaching the ins and outs of how to grow culinary mushrooms at home. They provided all the materials and a hands-on demonstration on how to produce substrate. Additionally, they went over the science behind how to grow mushrooms properly.
In action to the talks, The Standard also hosted a pop-up shop featuring a jewelry collection from Pamala Love and Sophia Roe. Their sterling silver pieces are inspired by the shape and gills of a mushroom, embracing the beauty of the natural world in their jewelry. They even free piercings to anyone who makes a purchase.
The various events they host are not only entertaining but also serve to raise awareness about the role mushrooms play in our world. The informative and hands-on occasions help to demystify the world of fungi and showcase the beauty and versatility of mushrooms. These events offer a unique and immersive experience that is enjoyable but also educational, making them an excellent tool for promoting sustainability, education, and creativity related to mushrooms.
So if you’re looking for more than just a place to rest your head and maybe a captivating experience from which you can learn much from, check out The Standard East Village and their many mushroom offerings. Their mushroom farm is so much more than an exhibit, but rather a practical and educational project that can teach guests and visitors about the sustainable nature of fungi and how they can create a more viable food system for those living in urban environments. Plus, their mushroom dishes are delicious, and many of their events fit the mushroom theme, making it a great place to check out if you’re a mushroom fanatic visiting NYC!