JetBlue in an experiment in ‘farm-to-air’ innovation, on Thursday revealed the T5 Farm — a blue potato farm and produce garden at Terminal 5 (T5) at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. JetBlue Airways, partnering with TERRA® Real Vegetable Chips, says that the farm will promote New York agriculture and enhance the JetBlue customer experience with more green space.
The 24,000 square foot T5 Farm, while offering a new green space, has the support of GrowNYC Partners and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The TERRA brand is known for providing JetBlue’s signature TERRA Blues® which are available for free on every JetBlue flight. The T5 Farm will yield blue potatoes like those used to make the TERRA Blues. TERRA Blues have been the official snack of JetBlue since the airline launched. Last year, JetBlue distributed more than 5.7 million bags of TERRA Blues.
“An airport seems like an unexpected place for a farming experiment, but what better way to explore JetBlue’s role in the food cycle than to harvest right in our own back yard at JFK,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, head of sustainability, JetBlue. “Our customers expect T5 to offer them unique experiences. We know from our T5 Rooftop that people are drawn to light and green spaces, and they also have an inherent interest in understanding where their food comes from.”
The farm will feature 3,000 crates of potato plants, herbs and other produce. It will highlight local farmers and New York’s agriculture and is expected to grow more than 1,000 pounds of blue potatoes per harvest, as well as house 2,000 herbs and plants including a variety of produce such as arugula, beets, mint and basil. It is the first blue potato farm in the world at an airport. In collaboration with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the other plants being grown on the T5 Farm were carefully selected to deter bird and other wildlife coming to the area.
The T5 Farm will also serve as an agricultural and educational resource for the community. The harvests will help JetBlue and its partners in T5 become more self-sufficient by providing herbs and produce for use in some of the terminal’s restaurants and eateries, with the goal of blue potatoes eventually finding their way back in TERRA Blues served onboard. Items from the T5 Farm will also be donated to local food pantries.
“TERRA Blues are the perfect snack to complement the JetBlue mission to provide quality food during the travel experience. Now, through the T5 Farm, we are pleased to bring a farm-to-flight experience closer to travelers,” said Jared Simon, senior director of marketing, Hain Celestial. “We are proud to extend our partnership with JetBlue through this initiative, which highlights the journey that blue potatoes make as they become a delicious in-flight snack.”
The T5 Farm is located pre-security on the departures level of T5, JetBlue’s award-winning flagship terminal. JetBlue continues to enhance the experience for customers flying from T5 with unique JetBlue features like the recently completed T5 Rooftop, the Live From T5™ concert series, free Wi-Fi throughout the terminal, and acclaimed restaurants and concessions. Frommer’s recognized T5 as one of the world’s ten most beautiful airport terminals.
Food grown at the T5 Farm completes the full cycle of food production. In partnership with Air Ventures and Royal Waste Services, JetBlue composts many leftovers from select restaurants in T5. Air Ventures and Royal Waste Services haul nearly 300 pounds of food waste each day for composting at McEnroe Organic Farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Earlier this year, the nutrient rich, organic soil from the farm was then transported to the T5 Farm to grow potatoes and produce.
GrowNYC, an environmental nonprofit that supports local agriculture and farmers’ markets has partnered with JetBlue since 2012. GrowNYC products are currently offered in T5 in New York Minute — a concept store that offers New York-produced products. In October 2013, JetBlue and GrowNYC brought a Greenmarket to customers at T5. At the Greenmarket, GrowNYC educated customers about composting and recycling, and sold local food products including jams, honey, fruit, maple syrup, baked goods and more. T5 Farm was created in collaboration with GrowNYC Partners, a consultancy arm of the nonprofit GrowNYC that returns profits to the mission-based activities of GrowNYC: gardens, Greenmarkets and hands-on education. The area is designed by ORE, a Brooklyn-based architectural firm that combines scientific research and biomimicry to create green buildings for New Yorkers.
“JetBlue is New York’s Hometown Airline and what better way to showcase their New York pride than with a farm,” said GrowNYC Partners Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. “Northeast farmers produce some of the freshest, healthiest, tastiest food in the world, which is already available inside T5, and now outside: at the farm! It’s an opportunity for us to educate all the travelers about where food comes from in an exciting, non-traditional setting.”
“Throughout aviation history, JFK Airport has been home to many firsts in environmental sustainability,” said Michael Moran, General Manager of John F. Kennedy International Airport. “We applaud JetBlue’s commitment to protecting the environment and for their green space initiative, marking another first for our airport.”
Creating a healthier airport environment is a core pillar of JetBlue’s sustainability philosophy. As New York’s Hometown Airline™, JetBlue is proud of the natural foods and products available in its hometown and home state. The airline regularly utilizes opportunities such as the T5 Farm to educate customers on important issues such as carbon offsetting, composting and climate change, while matching their desire for more nutritious options onboard and in terminal. The airline is known for offering distinct, whole food and responsible onboard food options. Guided by the airline’s mission of inspiring humanity, JetBlue is consistently seeking new ways to connect with diverse suppliers, including farmers that grow environmentally and socially responsible foods and exemplify similar responsible practices.