Unprecedented numbers of people agree that fresh produce is even better when it is grown locally. Local produce stays better longer when it isn’t exposed to harmful factors during the shipping process, which also makes growing them a lot better for the environment. With intentions of making the world a better place, the Berlin-based startup company Infarm has captured this increasing demand with their new invention, the Kräutergarten.
These indoor Kräutergartens, which in English means ‘herb gardens,’ are cropping up right inside of popular German grocery stores like Metro. These mini indoor herb-farming installations are only about five square meters in size, but they could easily revolutionize the way we think about food production and consumption. The Kräutergartens are designed to facilitate vertical farming techniques, where plants are grown on shelves to better maximize space, allowing for more efficient production and increased yields.
Right now, the Kräutergarten most effectively grows herbs and other leafy greens like lettuce. The gardens function as mini greenhouses and LED lights are used in place of the sun. The best part is that store personnel can control every environmental factor including ventilation, humidity, and temperature via phone app.
The company asserts that the many innovations used to successfully grow plants in the Kräutergarten are far more sustainable than conventional farming methods. Kräutergartens use 90% less water, 70% less fertilizer, and zero pesticides. Not to mention, the produce is grown right in the store, so the packaging and transit components of our current food system are completely eliminated from the equation. If even a small fraction of the food grown in cities utilized these vertical indoor farming techniques, deforestation could be significantly reduced, which would, in turn, help eliminate C02 emissions worldwide. For this reason alone, the successful implementation of indoor Kräutergartens at the grocery store is a trend that hopefully other cities will follow.
The marvel surrounding industrial agricultural techniques of decades past is quickly waning in the face of innovations like these. Thanks to their efficient use of resources and ability to circumvent the use of pesticides, Kräutergartens are helping more people rediscover the health benefits and environmental sustainability of local farming.
Not to mention that the herbs taste amazing when they aren’t exposed to chemicals and prolonged periods of darkness during transportation. Really, these herbs and veggies couldn’t get much fresher, a property that makes them especially appealing to the chefs of high-end restaurants.
Infarm’s hope is to one day reach beyond grocery stores by creating Kräutergartens that can be installed directly into customers’ restaurants as well as their homes. Keep your eye out because they might just be the farms of the future. Really, our only question is, why didn’t anyone think of this brilliant concept sooner?