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Braddock, Pennsylvania is not what most people would call a farm town. White plumes of methanol, ammonia, zinc, and manganese billow throughout the day from its last remaining steel mill, while cars and pickups and freight trucks roar back and forth across the nearby Rankin Bridge. Despite its diminutive size, the town is well-known in the Pittsburgh region for its air quality, which ranks among the worst in the nation for year-round dust, soot, and smoke pollution. 

And yet, inside a wide, windowless warehouse set just a block or two back from the banks of the Monongahela River, thousands of tender, young plants are thriving beneath a gleaming roof and complex HVAC system that shields them from both the azure sky and the effluence of the adjacent smokestacks.

Fifth Season, a vertical baby greens operation, is located next to the last operating steel mill in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Grist / Eve Andrews

The company Fifth Season is responsible for tending to this farm, though the startup’s use of “farm” certainly stretches traditional definitions. The greens here do not grow out of the comforting foundation of earth; they are produ... Read more

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