March 19, 2024

How we've helped Potager Farm reach new heights

We’ve been helping Potager Farm grow delicious produce for Berlin’s food scene. Here’s how.

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Since partnering with Potager in early 2022, we’ve helped the Berlin-based farm deliver resource-efficient, nutritious produce to the city’s gastro scene.

Potager Farm epitomises many of our core values here at IGS – nutritious crops, drastically reduced food miles, efficient use of natural resources, and a dedicated, forward-thinking team to back it all up. Built on the site of a repurposed car repair shop, Potager's vertical farm is located near a shopping centre in a residential community in Berlin. We initially partnered with the business in February 2022, starting with the construction of three six-metre towers in January 2023 and finishing in July of that year.

About Potager Farm

Initially founded in 2021, Potager is a startup spinout from the Greenman Group, a collection of subsidiary corporations headquartered in Ireland (with subsidiaries operating in six different countries). Greenman Investments is the group’s market-leading, sector specific, grocery real estate investment fund manager.  

Their funds invest exclusively in food-anchored retail parks and retail warehouses. Before working with IGS, the group was looking to diversify its investment portfolio and mitigate any environmental impact by supplying local businesses in Berlin with herbs, leafy greens, and micro veg to shorten supply chains and reduce food miles.

In response to evolving retail systems and environmental concerns, the group embraces innovative approaches to local food production, and established its own vertical farm to help achieve food security and feed growing populations. Vertical farming was identified as a means for the group to help secure this as they committed to meet Paris-aligned net-zero targets by 2050.  

Like us at IGS, the Potager team believes in a shared global responsibility to conserve and preserve natural resources (such as water). The business also recognises the key role vertical farming can play in allowing cities to become far more self-sufficient. In this spirit, Potager has installed solar panels on their farm roof to supply energy, and has plans to partner with their sister company and utility company Greenman Energy to help power the farm through renewable energy.

The business actively works with restaurants and hotels in Berlin to provide them with healthy, locally grown produce. Driven by passion and a desire for continuous learning, Potager’s partnership with IGS has always felt like a natural fit.  

Solving common challenges through innovative solutions

Prior to the site build being completed in Berlin, members of Potager’s team spent time at our Crop Research Centre near Dundee, Scotland. This allowed them to get a thorough understanding of IGS technology, learning from crop scientists and engineers how best to use IGS Growth Towers, recipes, and our Growth Tower Management System (GTMS).

Like any new business, Potager has come up against some stumbling blocks. Brexit, for instance, presented a challenge, as the team adapted to new ways of doing business between the EU and the UK and aligning to different regulations.  

The team has also had to deal with environmental concerns. Upon starting up, it was discovered that tap water in Berlin contained elements that plants didn't respond well to, so they decided to install a reverse osmosis filter. There are also plans in place to harvest rainwater to use in the farm’s fertigation system, bringing it a step closer to self-sufficiency.

Flowers grown inside Potager's vertical farm (photo credits = Potager Farm)

Beginning operations

Some of the challenges that have faced the Potager team are unique to the food industry. This has included acquiring a ‘plant passport’ enabling them to market and sell their potted plants. They’ve also had to obtain health and safety and fire hazard certifications. As a production facility, this is essential in order to put in place processes to minimise hazards and have the relevant legislation in place.

Working with IGS

From the get-go, IGS and Potager have developed a relationship based on respect, shared values, and a vision to change the way we grow food. Potager chose IGS vertical farming technology for a number of reasons, including its modularity and potential to significantly shorten supply chains. Our team’s intrinsic knowledge of engineering and horticulture – and the ability to fuse the two together – were also significant factors in Potager’s decision to choose IGS’ technology.

Potager also saw potential in IGS’ dynamic racking systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and multi-spectrum LEDs. Additional benefits included having a minimal physical footprint and proven use-cases of cutting-edge agricultural technology being employed in a commercial real estate location. Since partnering with IGS, Potager has enjoyed 24-hour monitoring, as well as iterative software updates and the latest Growth Recipes to ensure they stay ahead of the curve.

As well as helping both the local community and the wider Greenman Group reduce carbon emissions, vertical farming with IGS has already brought huge benefits to Potager Farm. For a start, the business has been able to reduce land usage by growing crops in an urban site and, as a welcome consequence, brought horticultural jobs into the city which offer competitive salaries.  

Helping Potager Farm establish a planet-friendly, resource-efficient farm in the German capital is a perfect example of how vertical farming technology can be deployed on a local scale. We’re proud to have shared our knowledge and resources, helping the team achieve their vision of supplying Berlin’s thriving gastro scene in planet-friendly, resource-efficient fashion.

Learn more about Potager Farm via their website, or stay up to date with them via their Instagram and LinkedIn channels.

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Thursday, April 25, 2024

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Read IGS’ Head of Science Tanveer Khan’s insight on growing tomato starter plants with vertical farming, covering everything from nutritional value to specific nuances between varieties.

Read IGS’ Head of Science Tanveer Khan’s insight on growing tomato starter plants with vertical farming, covering everything from nutritional value to specific nuances between varieties.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Growing strawberry runners with vertical farming – what the science tells us

Here's how we utilise the latest research to grow strawberry runners using vertical farming.

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