State College

Urban gardening startup takes root in State College

Woody Wilson shows one of the raised beds that Cityscape Farm Supply builds. Cityscape Farm Supply hopes to help people living in cities, where they might only have a balcony, be able to grow vegetables.
Woody Wilson shows one of the raised beds that Cityscape Farm Supply builds. Cityscape Farm Supply hopes to help people living in cities, where they might only have a balcony, be able to grow vegetables. adrey@centredaily.com

In the age of Amazon, your thumb doesn’t have to be green to garden. You just need one that works.

As more people flock to cities, they’re finding ways to keep Mother Nature alive in the concrete jungle. On rooftops and balconies, patios and stoops, flora flower upward, following the vaulting skylines of a world where space is at a premium and nearly anything can be brought to your doorstep with the tap of a smartphone.

Even a personal home garden in a box.

“Our beds are specific for small-scale vegetable gardening,” said Travis Lesser, the State College entrepreneur behind Cityscape Farm Supply, a startup and online platform that brings gardening to city dwellers. “We’re looking at people in an apartment or townhome who don’t really have a lot of space and who don’t want anything permanent because they’re generally renting.”

It’s a green dream for the urban scene, one which Lesser envisioned from the rooftop porch of his uncle’s Philadelphia brownstone. After returning to State College, he enlisted the help of Woody Wilson, who had founded his own garden installation company, and the idea blossomed into a business during the summer.

The market for urban gardening is growing. According to the National Gardening Association, about a third of American households grow their own food, with millennials constituting the fast growing segment of the grow-your-own population. When coupled with urbanization and the growth of the at-your-fingertips economy, the idea for Cityscape rests on fertile ground.

At least, for the pair of Penn State grads, that’s the hope.

“Our goal for ourselves had been Black Friday to get things up and running,” said Wilson, who also owns Wilson Home Farms. “You think Black Friday and gardening don’t go hand-in-hand, but that was our goal.”

The duo made their first sale in October. Lesser said the beds can be customized to be wheelchair accessible, so anyone anywhere can garden.

Besides Philadelphia, Wilson said they’re targeting the New York and Washington, D.C. markets. The pair plan on adding casters for mobility and features such as liners and drip pans suitable for indoor growing.

“What excites me is now I can grow in small spaces, whereas with my work with Wilson Home Farms it was more limited and I was missing the market on renters and small gardeners,” Wilson said. “So this filled that void where I was not able to grow before.”

They currently have four models featuring varying depths for shallow- or deep-rooting vegetables. More features, such as educational content on the site, they say, are on the way.

“We’re hungry with this right now,” Lesser said.

Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy

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