Indoor Farming

Berlin's Factory-Made Vegetables

Will the salad of the future grow indoors? Source: Marius Münstermann
Will the salad of the future grow indoors?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Growing crops indoors opens new opportunities for fresh and regional produce.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Indoor farming companies in both Japan and the United States are already challenging conventional farmers.
    • Plants under LED lights grow twice as fast as outdoor crops.
    • But their flavor is blander than those of field-raised plants.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

The future of the world’s urban food supply can be found in a courtyard in the heart of Berlin.

Three young entrepreneurs are growing vegetables without soil and sunlight, in the middle of the capital city, despite the fact the gritty Kreuzberg district isn’t the most obvious place to launch a career in farming.

“We wanted to grow our own food,” said Guy Galonska. “But we didn’t want to move to the countryside, we wanted to stay in the big city.”

Together with his brother Erez Galonska and his wife Osnat Michaeli, he founded the firm Infarm.

The plants are bedded in hemp fibers and their roots dip down into a water trough below, in a closed system which uses 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture.

“We don’t need pesticides, because our plants grow indoors,” said Mr. Galonska, looking across the greenery sprouting across what used to be a factory building.

“Most fungus and insects are in the ground; since we don’t use any soil and we work in sealed rooms, we haven’t had any problems with pests so far.”

The trouble is, little sunlight comes in either. Infarm uses LED lights from Valota, a high-tech manufacturer from Finland, to keep the plants photosynthesizing. The rest of the farm’s equipment can be found at a typical hardware store.

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