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In Berlin’s Metro Supermarket, an indoor farming startup put vertical farms at the end of the store’s produce aisle, where greens and herbs are being grown. The Berlin-based startup called Infarm built the vertical farm, aiming to grow fresh produce year-round.
The farm is placed in a glowing modular box that is so efficient, it can make vertical farming in such a small scale. The plants don’t grow on soil but are grown “hydroponically” on a thin layer of water that is enriched with fertilizers and oxygen. It is also put under LED lights, which imitate sunlight. The company also uses micro-sensors and data processing to ensure that the conditions in the box are suitable for the plants to grow.
The founder and CEO of Infarm, Erez Galonska, shared that he has always been passionate about self-sufficiency. While traveling to different remote communities where farming was a big part of life, the same struck with him.
“I discovered that growing food is such a powerful and natural experience when you eat truly fresh vegetables, you recognize immediately how much tastier and healthier they are,” he shared. “When I came back to my flat in the city, the feeling of freedom and freshness dissolved very quickly and the urban chaos took over. I was longing for a piece of land.”
So then he searched on Google how it could be possible for him to farm without soil, and there he learned about hydroponics. He then taught himself how to do it through YouTube tutorials. He then built his own hydroponic pipe system in his living room, and a month later, yielded a “jungle farm full of delicious greens.”
“It was February in Berlin, cold and snowing outside, and we had fresh vegetables inside,” he said.
Through his vertical farming efforts, Galonska wants to create an “urban farming revolution” by making more indoor farms.
This isn’t the first time that a supermarket has experimented with this kind of farming. In 2013, Whole Foods partnered with Gotham Greens to bring a rooftop greenhouse in Brooklyn and other New York locations. Today, Whole Foods has 20,000 square feet worth of greenhouses that grow pesticide-free produce year-round.