Growing Up: A Sydney Vertical Farm Continues its Rise

Urban Green

Urban Green has earned over half a million Qantas Points in its quest to produce sustainable microgreens. The key? Managing outgoing expenses and cash flow with the help of the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card.

Deep beneath an office tower in central Sydney’s Barangaroo, business founder Noah Verin and his team at Urban Green are changing the way we grow our food, nurturing microgreens in a sealed-off vertical farm. With no access to sunlight or no ground to plant in, it’s not a traditional location for agriculture but a 120-square-metre section of the basement has been transformed with LED lights that mimic the sun, panels for insulation, cascading rows of planters, a dizzying number of fans for airflow  and a reverse-cycle air-conditioning system to regulate the temperature.

Noah Verin, Urban Green

“Right now I’m growing about 45 different types of microgreens,” says Verin. These include lemon balm, marigold leaf and red-veined sorrel that are supplied to some of Sydney's finest restaurants, such as Bentley and Woodcut. “They’re edible seedlings that we purposefully harvest earlier while they’re packed with nutrients and flavour.”

Verin started the business in 2016 after having worked in kitchens and being let down by the quality of the microgreens he had to plate. In 2020, Urban Green moved into its current headquarters, where it now employs five staff and has plans to take over more of the 1000-square-metre basement. 

Urban Green

“Our intentions to grow means we rely on the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to manage our cash flow,” says Verin. “By the time we sell a product, we’ve already bought the soil and seeds roughly six to eight weeks prior, so having up to 51 days to pay for purchases¹ on the Card helps us manage the pipeline of production.”

“When we want to scale production up, it’s great to have a look at the app and see our spending capacity through the Card’s dynamic line of unsecured funding.² It feels like a relationship where trust is built and our spending capacity grows with the business.”

Along with the supplies needed to grow microgreens, the business pays for amenities such as fans and UV lighting along with biodegradable packaging. It became imperative for Verin that the business Card Urban Green uses not only has scope for growth – with cash flow friendly features – but gives him a return in Qantas Points. 

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Manage your cash flow

Using the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card, Urban Green earns up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on everyday business expenses and 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services.³ 

Verin is focused on growing and with his expansion on the horizon, he hopes to reinvest those Qantas Points back into the business by using them on Qantas flights to Japan for research. 

“There’s a lot of amazing vertical farms in Japan that I’m really keen to see. I want to know how they work and hopefully get a few ideas of how we can take the business further.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

Unlock the possibilities

Noah Verin shares his top small-business tips for creating a brand, streamlining processes and ensuring growth.

“Expand your horizons with Qantas Points”

“While making time for business travel can be hard for a small business owner, it’s important to get out there in order to discover new technologies and ways of doing things,” says Verin. As a Qantas Business Rewards Member, he saves up to 10 per cent on selected Qantas flights.⁴ “I’ll use my American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card to book flights and take advantage of the Card’s complimentary travel insurance too.” (T&Cs and exclusions apply, such as maximum age limits, pre-existing medical conditions and cover limits).⁵

“Make your finances work for you”

“When I was looking for a Business Card I wanted something that had flexibility.” The American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card’s Flexible Payment Option⁶ delivers just that – allowing you to pay off a portion of your monthly balance. “Plus, the ability to earn extra Qantas Points with Qantas Business Rewards partners makes us more conscious of where and how we spend our money. We want to get the most out of every business expense.” 

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Amex Qantas Business Rewards

“Diversify your revenue streams”

When Urban Green’s revenue from the hospitality industry dried up through the lockdown, the business was forced to evolve. There is now an online store where consumers can purchase microgreens and Verin has fostered a number of corporate educational partnerships in the city. “We have a miniature farm installed in an office at Martin Place. We go once a week to harvest and integrate the greens into their onsite café,” says Verin. “And at Charter Hall, there’s a selection of microgreens we manage in the office kitchen for people to harvest and add to their lunches.”

“Lay the foundations for growth”

Core to Verin’s plan for growth is a commitment to sustainability. “We avoid using single-use plastic sleeves: all our products are wrapped in recycled paper and delivered inside Biocups.” The environmentally friendly packaging is more expensive and at first glance, not economical for the business, but it’s a move that is paying dividends for Urban Green and led to more growth. “It’s become part of our brand, which is why people choose us.” 

“Automate for tomorrow”

“Everything I do now is centred around ‘is this going to make the business easier to scale up in the future’,” says Verin. “Some of the Card’s features, such as automated reporting⁷ which feeds directly into our accounting software, help me keep track of everything as the business grows.” 

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 170,000 bonus Qantas Points* when you apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on your new American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card within 3 months of your approval date. T&Cs apply.  Available for new American Express Card Members only. Learn more.

Click here for Terms and Conditions.

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*170,000 bonus Qantas Points: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 25 June 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first three (3) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the past 18 months are ineligible for this offer. 170,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1 January 2024 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.

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