Growhouses in supermarkets: Founder of the Berlin start-up infarm nominated for price

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Growhouses in supermarkets: Founder of the Berlin start-up infarm nominated for price
  • By deutschewhiskybrenner

The appetite comes from watching. At the back of the Israeli restaurant Beba, the salads and herbs for tomorrow's meals are already growing in cool lighting in a large glass cabinet. For the kitchen team, it's just a few steps to the harvest. Some trips to the trash can are made unnecessary by the "Infarm". The computer knows what the plants need in order to thrive optimally.

Harvest in the caravan

The company's co-founder, Osnat Michaeli, is one of the nominees for the Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Awards, which again on Tuesday honor women who have stood out for their courage and willingness to take risks have. In 2013, Osnat Michaeli, together with brothers Ezra and Guy Galonska, converted an old Airstream trailer into the first vertical farm. All three are from Israel. "We grew up there with super aromatic fresh fruit and vegetables," she says in the Mail interview. She missed that more than anything else in Berlin. Infarm's success story began with the first harvest in the caravan. When they harvested fresh basil, mint and lettuce in the middle of the Berlin winter, they knew the idea had potential.

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Until then, Osnat Michaeli had tried out all sorts of fields, had studied Chinese medicine and Shiatsu, philosophy and cultural studies and had completed an apprenticeship at a film school. She had also worked at a newspaper, in restaurants, in an advertising agency, an animation studio and on film sets and developed a passion for film editing. Since then she has been an expert in unusual connections, loves creative thinking.

Greenhouses in supermarkets : Founder of the Berlin Start -ups Infarm nominated for prize

75 percent less fertilizer

When vertical farms started eight years ago, they weren't really taken seriously. The perception was somewhere between esoteric and idealist, the climate crisis was by no means as big an issue as it is today, and food safety was still pretty much in the background. . "It was really a challenge to find acceptance for our idea." She and her co-founders did not get discouraged and firmly believed in their mission. That has now paid off.

The fact that they at Infarm have rethought the entire supply chain from start to finish, that the farms in urban centers save thousands of food kilometers and therefore fewer trucks have to be on the road, is a big plus today. The cloud-connected farms used 95 percent less space, 95 percent less water, and 75 percent less fertilizer than traditional farming. "And we don't use any pesticides."

Breakthrough with the metro

Osnat Michaeli is convinced that more and more people will educate themselves about the impact of food production on the planet. The breakthrough came just three years after the company was founded, when Metro Cash& Carry concluded the first partnership with the young company. It exists to this day. Edeka, Kaufland, Rewe and others soon followed, including online supermarkets.

Today, the company has over 1000 employees from more than 55 nations, including biologists, software developers and corporate strategists. Infarm in Berlin alone employs 400 people in multidisciplinary teams. They install farms in supermarkets, at retailers and in restaurants, they take care of the planting and harvesting of herbs and salads and monitor the growth process via the cloud with the help of their own special software.

Greta Thunberg as a role model

They also supply their own products from the Infarm Growing Centers to supermarkets or distribution centers. The modular farms are up to 24 meters high. Such Infarm Growing Centers are to be established at 100 locations by 2025. In addition to his own grandmother, Osnat Michaeli's role models include Greta Thunberg, Pina Bausch and Maria Montessori.

She advises others to expect setbacks, but not to get stuck in them: "Stay positive, stay focused on your goal, choose your business partners well, and the right people and opportunities will cross your path. "

Start-ups for people and the environment

Sonja Jost from Berlin is also nominated for the Bold Woman Award, founder of the start-up DexLeChem, which was also founded in 2013 and specializes in the environmentally friendly production of medicines is. Nora Blum from Berlin, who supports people with mental illnesses with her digital medical company Selfapy, and Iris Braun with the social impact brand "Share", where every product sold generates a donation, have been nominated for the Bold Future Award.