Delhaize, the largest retailer in Belgium, has installed a greenhouse and vegetable garden in the Brussels region. Customers will have the opportunity to purchase locally-grown produce in-store. The farm is currently developing five types of lettuce. Next year, tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchini will also be grown. In 2018, the farm will offer workshops for schools.
Major supermarkets have made urban farming a reality. Urban agriculture was discussed in the recent past. These farms have a number of advantages. Even those living in urban areas can benefit from indoor farming, as it allows them to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. Indoor farming reduces carbon emissions and uses less water compared to traditional agriculture. It also doesn’t use pesticides.
Celine Fremault, Brussels Minister for Environment and Energy, stated in a press release that “Developing a nutritious and high-quality pattern…is a challenge of the Brussels Region.” This first Delhaize city farm is an excellent initiative that fits perfectly with one of Brussels’s ambitions, to increase local production.
In the same year, French retailer Carrefour unveiled a similar rooftop initiative that local agricultural students manage. Albert Heijn, one of the Netherlands’ largest supermarket chains, launched a similar ” Pick-Yourself Herb Garden,” which allowed customers to choose fresh plants. IGA in Canada became the first to sell produce grown in-store in Montreal. They offer 30 different varieties of vegetables. Target, a US retailer, is testing vertical gardens.
Infarm is a Berlin start-up that is working to make this a reality in every supermarket. The company has created an indoor herb garden for supermarkets that houses plants in a protected and nutrient-rich environment. The farm is connected to an app that monitors key factors like pH levels and temperatures.
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Osnat Michali, co-founder of Infarm, tells TechCrunch that “behind our farms there is a robust software and hardware platform for precision agriculture.” Each farming unit is a unique ecosystem that creates the exact environment plants need to thrive. Los Angeles-based Local Roots took a similar approach by using shipping containers to deliver urban farms to supermarkets, universities, and community centers. They want to create a community-based farm network across the US.
Consumers who are ethically minded and environmentally conscious begin to ask questions about where their food is produced and how it affects the environment. Brands must respond to these concerns and continue to implement programs that reduce emissions. Brands that are innovative in reducing their carbon footprint will reduce costs, combat climate change, and attract more consumers seeking fresh, high-quality food.