“We bear the risk together, as we both own the farm. With this, we want to emphasize that the relationship with the retailers must change. Growy does not sell technology, but runs a farm for and with the customer. Therefore we as breeders are just as responsible for the farm as retailers are for the store, it’s the only way we ensure the consumer gets their food and we can really make a difference, “says Ard van de Kreeke, founder of Growy.
Growy was formerly known as GrowX. The company creates a retail brand with three key focus points: tasty, healthy and affordable food. “We focus on cultivating, building vertical farms and running them. We sell nutritious products like leafy greens, strawberries, potatoes and duck food. Growy has already grown to about 70 people and more are coming every month,” says Ard.
Ard van de Kreeke (Photo: Innovation Origins)
New growth facilities in the US, Middle East and EU
Growy has big plans for the coming years. The company plans to roll out many cultivation plants in different cities. These vertical farms are fully robotized, so no human labor is required, only for maintenance. Everything is arranged at the head office in Amsterdam. All crops are grown on cellulose paper, which keeps the crop very clean and does not generate waste.
Ard says Growy is in negotiations with retailers in Europe, the US and the Middle East for various contracts to build new growth facilities. The first large vertical farm will be rolled out this year. And then many more follow. All cultivation facilities are linked to various points of sale and partners for the purpose of e-commerce.
The vertical farms will be located right next to the points of sale and will be completely self-sufficient in energy, water and CO2. On the vertical farms, different waste streams from retail partners are used to regenerate certain processes. Growy will discuss with the retail partners which crops will be grown on the vertical farms.
A photo of the demo farm
Growy’s growing beds will be slightly different from those in other vertical farms. Ard explains that all plants are grown in gutters. This keeps costs down as the company does not have to purchase heavy and expensive lifting equipment. A ‘simple’ lifting robot is sufficient to move the gutters over the cultivation plant. This reduces the cost and number of risks and increases the degree of automation.
The robot also waters each crop based on its weight. Each plant automatically receives the amount of water it needs. Ard points out that this system saves a lot of water. All auxiliary materials are developed internally. “It is much more efficient and allows the company to significantly reduce the cost price. In addition, it is very useful to have all the software integrated in one system that Growy can control.”
To achieve a low cost level, you need to implement more than just automation. There is also climate control and the use of light. The vertical farm consists of different cultivation cells, each with an area of 150 m2. “The advantage of this is that we can give each crop a different growth profile every day.”
The benefits of working on a vertical farm? Fresh micro vegetables in every lunch break!
Urban Food Tower
“Vertical farms are very conveniently located next to outlets. But they also need to be made visible to consumers, especially to expand our brand and show its benefits: the food production of the future.”
Growy introduces the Urban Food Tower (Growy House), a circular and modular wooden building located in the middle of a large city. Growy is rolling out Urban Food Towers in the US, Singapore, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The idea is that the multi-storey building will house a shop with a restaurant, where consumers can taste the food and have a drink.
A cultivation plant with glass walls is located on the first floor. Visitors can see how vertical farming works, how the plants grow, and what the benefits of the cultivation method are. A greenhouse is being built on the roof for growing cucumbers and tomatoes. The building will house meeting rooms and catering companies can arrange events.
In the coming years, R & D trials will be set up together with AMS and WUR, which will also take place worldwide in the various Urban Towers. Research facilities in five different locations around the world are being integrated into Growy House under the name Growy Labs. This will provide a lot of specific R&D for different regions and, most importantly, for the vertical agricultural sector.
“We will conduct large-scale research per market to analyze the potential of the various local markets. To this end, we will collaborate with universities from the different regions. Together we will analyze the local eating habits and cultivation opportunities. We will then respond to this with all parties involved. “
For more information:
Ard van de Kreeke