A supermarket in Berlin debuted the first in-store farming installation in Europe. The ‘Kräuter Garten’ (German for ‘herb garden’) is a futuristic vertical set-up which provides fresh and organic herbs to customers. The high-tech installation might be a peek into the future of urban agriculture.
Food security is one of the biggest challenges of our era. It is no surprise that it appears at the top of the list of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 2 is to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. The problem with conventional agriculture is that it requires a lot of space in addition to being highly responsive to the weather, natural disasters and climate change. In an increasingly urbanized world, vertical farming could be the solution.
“The 2020’s will be the decade of the vertical agriculture revolution.”
INFARM, a Berlin-based urban farming start-up, developed a high-tech microfarming system which optimizes light and space utilization while reducing water use and eliminating the need for pesticides. The result is a modular hydroponic system that can be adapted to different spaces and needs. INFARM initially raised funds with a crowdfunding campaign, and they have pursued several innovative projects since. They design vertical farms for restaurants, international brands and many other kinds of clients.
INFARM collaborated with the German retailing company METRO to launch the ‘Kräuter Garten’ in one of their Berlin supermarkets. The installation takes local food to a new level, allowing urban dwellers to pick their own produce in the store. The environmental benefits are numerous: water and chemical consumption are drastically reduced and there are no transportation-related emissions. The herbs and vegetables are obviously fresh and they have a more intense and enjoyable taste.
The ‘Kräuter Garten’ is generating a lot of buzz and one can only hope that the trend will take off, in particular in countries with great food insecurity. Organic, local, transparent and sustainable – the in-store vertical farm has a lot to offer.