We are especially thrilled to announce our latest partnership with Infarm – the urban farming company that specializes in growing exquisitely fresh herbs, salads, and various microgreens at the heart of major cities around the world.
Infarm sets a new standard in terms of sustainable farming as it requires 99.5% less space than soil-based agriculture, uses 95% less water, 90% less transport and zero chemical pesticides. We caught up with Emmanuel Evita, the Global Communications Director at Infarm, to discuss the fascinating world of hydroponic farming.
Who is Infarm?
Infarm is an urban farming company that deploys highly efficient farming units inside of the fruit and veg departments of supermarkets and food retailers. These units are remarkably efficient, managing the light, temperature, fertilisers, and other climatic conditions needed for the plant’s optimal growth.
Headquartered in Berlin, and now operating in 9 countries in cities that include Copenhagen, Seattle, Paris, Vancouver, Zurich and London, Infarm is on a mission to catalyse a change in thinking about farming. “Our idea is to take our farms and distribute them throughout the city,” Emmanuel tells us. “Over the next 30 years, the majority of people will be living in cities. And that’s who we want to serve, that’s where people are going to need it.“
Taking a peek into one of these units, you’ll find an array of vertically stacked trays filled with vibrant and vivacious leaves, ready to be displayed and bought either instore or online through grocers like Farmdrop. The trays and farming units can be exchanged, modified, and moved around with ease which is why this system is also referred to as ‘modular’ farming.
It is this modular farming system which enables Infarm to take advantage of the fast growing process of hydroponics to meet the needs of retailers and cut food miles by bringing the farm to the city.
What makes Infarm special?
One of Infarm’s most striking features is how interconnected their digital network is. As Emmanuel explains, “all of our farms are connected to the cloud, and that allows us to pull tens of thousands of data points around the growth process. It allows us to monitor all of the growth, temperature, nutrients, how the plants are responding to growth, and we’re able to pull that data across hundreds of farms across the world.”
This means that Infarm can gather information on how plants are responding in a particular store, like Seattle, and compare said data with plants growing in France or Switzerland in real-time, allowing them to improve, anticipate, and model better ways to grow produce – “essentially, we’re combining a lot of the advances in machine learning and data analysis developed over the last decade with techniques of modern agriculture to produce the best product.“
How Infarm grow for flavour
After choosing seed distributors that are known non-GMO, Infarm germinates their very own seeds. One of the primary considerations that shapes Infarm’s seed choices is taste rather than simply size, colour, or shipping survivability. “Because we’re cutting these [transportation] distances as much as possible, we’re thinking about taste, and that can be one of the primary things that we include in our selection of seeds.”
These seeds are then left to germinate within Infarm’s “nurseries” for about a week before they’re ready to take their first steps into the farming units. “Once we’re sure that they’re going to take on the characteristics that we expect, we plant them into the farms, whether they’re in stores or on our distribution centres, so that they can complete their growing cycle, which is usually 3-4 weeks depending on the variety.“
A bright future for urban farming
Hydroponic farming is an excellent way of growing herbs and microgreens with fewer food miles. And while modular farming is mainly concerned with growing herbs, salads and lettuces, it does have the potential to grow many other types of fresh produce. “We hope to be able to offer the full basket of grocery produce in the future – it’s something to look forward to,” says Emmanuel.
Farmdrop is absolutely thrilled to be working together with Infarm to help bring their fresh produce to more people and you can shop now for their delicious salads and greens at farmdrop.com