CLEARFIELD — Standing on the rooftop porch of a brownstone in Philadelphia, overlooking the skyline, Travis Lesser had a light bulb moment – to find a way to maximize rooftop space to grow food.
The St. Marys native then returned to his new home in State College, reached out to friend and agricultural guru Woody Wilson, and within a year Cityscape Farm Supply, LLC was formed.
Between Lesser’s business expertise and Wilson’s agriculture prowess, the new venture took root in August of 2016.
Currently, they have an online platform selling handmade wooden beds for small-scale vegetable farming.
“People want to know where their food is coming from and want to get into gardening on a small scale,” Lesser said. “When someone saw one of the beds and we made a sale before we were even technically started, we knew we were onto something.”
The two men are currently ramping up production in preparation for their first gardening season.
The grow beds are made by hand from Eastern Hemlock, a common tree in central Pennsylvania, known for its strength and durability. The wood is sourced and milled at an Amish lumber mill in nearby Millheim.
“We’re the typical startup story. We’re starting in a garage like Dell or Apple,” Lesser said of their work space at Wilson’s Centre Hall farm.
Although only beginning to sprout, the duo is already looking to expand to include other necessities like drip irrigation systems and cold frames to aid in year-round growing.
Lesser also joked that the business is hoping to make gardening tools “for people who want to garden but don’t really want to garden.”
Lesser, who is dedicated to environmental entrepreneurship, also owns a Spring Mill Solutions, a consulting firm who works to move golf courses toward being zero waste.
The environmental sustainability that surrounds both of the businesses has budded in the past several years as a student, and now graduate, of Smeal College of Business at Penn State University.
However, on a more personal level Lesser knows the satisfaction of getting his hands dirty in the raised beds in his backyard and wants to provide others a fast track to that same experience.
“People are wanting to buy local and know where their food comes from. I do see this movement and I think there’s and opportunity here,” Lesser said.