While the demand for organic and sustainable agriculture is growing across the globe, the future of fresher produce might be picking it right at the supermarket.
A startup out of Berlin called Infarm is currently working on an “indoor vertical farming” system with the capacity to grow any kind of fruit, vegetable or herb. Multiple sensors monitor the plants’ health and connected data lets the system know when to irrigate and feed the crops, creating individual ecosystems. In addition to creating idyllic growing environments for each plant, the system is smart, providing the opportunity for experts to analyze and collect data to optimize growth and flavor and potentially predict problems in the future.
“We are able to develop growing recipes that tailor the light spectrums, temperature, pH, and nutrients to ensure the maximum natural expression of each plant in terms of flavor, colour, and nutritional quality,” Osnat Michaeli, co-founder of Infarm, explained in an interview with TechCrunch.
Although vertical farming is already a familiar concept to agriculture, what makes Infarm so unique is their ability to do small-scale vertical farming in customer-facing situations. The company has already found major success after placing systems in Metro Group locations, one of the biggest wholesalers in Europe, and are now being approached by other grocers that want to do the same. Instead of growing produce outside on traditional farms and dealing with the supply chain to deliver it to each store, grocers could invest in InFarm and allow customers to harvest food right from the vine. In an era where grocery stores are trying to remain more relevant to consumers who often shop online for dry goods, InFarm helps grocers turn into a next gen farmers market with fresh from the plant produce.
Investors have also noticed the potential within Infarm as the company recently closed a €4 million funding round which included Berlin’s Cherry Ventures, Impact investor Quadia, London’s LocalGlobe, Atlantic Food Labs, design consultant Ideo, Demand Analytics and others.