Your company has come up with the most innovative idea of designing and building of modular and lush green vertical gardens and fields. How did you come across this idea and how did you take this forward?
Vertical Field was established by Mr. Bar-Ness in 2006, motivated by his green thumb and ambition to bring nature into the urban lifestyle. At the time, he was involved with shopping malls and he found a path forward by exploring vertical technology as a growing solution for raising plants in a new, innovative way.
Over time, the company realized that there is more than just aesthetic to living walls and that nature is contributing in many intangible ways. We understood people’s need to surround themselves with a green, healthy environment, that’s when we started to collaborate with Bar-Ilan University and University of Nanjing in China on a study sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The study aims to monitor the environmental, health and the direct and indirect economic benefits of living walls on the urban environment (local climate, temperature, radiation, humidity, wind, and carbon and water fluxes).
Now, Vertical Field is involved in urban planning, urban renewal, building preservation, construction, and interiors as well as vertical urban food supply.
In this chaos of environmental issues, the world really needs more innovative ideas as such. Do you have any such plan for the future that you would like to share with us?
One of the main solutions that the company is focusing on is a vertical, soil-based system for urban farming in any indoor or outdoor space. The portable urban farm can be located on the roofs of buildings, in recycled shipping containers and more.
The produce is fresh, healthy, organic and free of pesticides. The system allows maximum yield from a small area. Its fast plant growth cycle provides a frequent and regular supply of agricultural produce year-long for urban environments and smart cities. Vertical Field aims to lead the transformation of the urban ecosystem by integrating natural values and improving the quality of city life.
What kind of challenges do you generally observe within your clients and how do you help them overcome those challenges with your innovative solutions?
One of our main visions is to give supermarkets, restaurants, hospitals or any other institution, the tools to grow their own produce and to provide it onsite.
We see supermarkets struggling with the high costs of the supply chain and longer growing cycles dependent upon unpredictable weather conditions. With our solution, they never have to worry about the weather or external conditions. They can get a consistent in-house supply and reduce and monitor their inventory waste.
We are offering a completely new business model in which they will not have distribution costs. We are allowing them to create a unique shopping experience for their customers who can walk up to the vertical wall and pick off the herbs ready to eat and at the same time create a greener, healthier environment.
The real challenge is to show corporations the economic and the health benefits so they will be motivated to change the way they are operating.
What according to you is the advancement in this industry in terms of technology? What advanced technologies do you use in your system to offer the best services?
Our platform itself is revolutionary. Most indoor urban farms are using hydroponic growing systems and we are the only ones who developed a unique soil-based vertical growing platform.
The idea of using a soil-based solution supports our values of keeping plants in their original environment and utilizing natural values in our lives.
The vertical agriculture platform has an irrigated system that distributes air equally for perfect growing conditions. It includes climate control, an independently operated lighting system that simulates sunlight and optimizes the photosynthesis process.
With our intuitive app, you can control and monitor all the plant vital signs while our smart algorithms and sensors take care of the rest. Our products have many comparable advantages in terms of yield, quality and cost. We created a modular design, so any crops that are ready for harvest can be easily removed. Our system is easy to operate without any training or professional agricultural expertise.
Vertical Field has worked with several industries of different sizes. Can provide us with one or two most innovative case studies describing the challenges that your clients were facing and how did your solutions help them overcome those challenges?
One of the projects that we are very proud of is a vertical farm located on the rooftop of a building for usage by a restaurant located within the building. The farm provides constant and fresh produce to the restaurant on a rotating basis given that the concept of the restaurant is to have a new chef every six months with menus that are also changing. In addition, it is important that the roof is maintained for visitors to experience not only the fresh food but also its beauty.
Another project is located at the offices of Check Point in Tel Aviv, Israel. This is a one-of-a-kind project. At the front of the building, we delivered the natural experiences by creating a vertical forest (almost a square acre). In this way, we created an amazing natural view that can be seen through the window and most importantly an ecological shell that gave shading to the surrounding of the structure, protecting against the direct radiation of the sun and distributing natural light into the workspace while enriching the air with oxygen. In the roof area, we created a spectacular, vertical garden that is a daily inspiration for the creativity of the workers. At the same time, it is a thermal insulation and shade to the roof area.
After a few months of planning and installation, the project was recognized as one of the most beautiful buildings in the country, together with the proven capability to reduce the building temperature and thus its energy costs, providing a healthier greener work environment.
What is the roadmap of your company in terms of technological and geographical expansion?
Our goal is to penetrate the global market. We have started to focus on the US and we are working on several promising projects there for both vertical urban gardens and vertical urban farms. It’s a new concept we are creating – to sell where you produce.
We are about to launch our new agriculture CEA (Closed Environmental Agriculture) platform this year – our VboX®. VboX® is a portable farm built in a recycled shipping container. It can be located anywhere and is capable of growing and distributing more than 200 different crops. The VboX® can be located near a supermarket store, in the parking lot of a restaurant, or on the roof of a hotel. The produce is fresh, healthy, pesticide-free, and super tasty. VboX® uses 90% less water than conventional agricultural methods and consumes less electricity than any other vertical farming solution on the market.
What according to you should be the focal point of the article?
In a world where the total population is growing rapidly and where natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce, in times when most of the world’s population are aware of what they are eating, with increasing demand for healthier and safer foods, agriculture needs to reinvent itself to be fit for purpose.
There are many companies that are bringing innovative solutions to the agriculture sector in response to the world’s problems with food supply, environmental conditions and a growing population. We are working to fulfill the demand for healthy, fresh and pesticide-free products and to lower companies’ environmental footprints.
Most growing systems are using hydroponics, but what we are doing is different; we are bringing a new solution that has a whole vision behind it.
We are leaving the plant in its natural soil environment where it can gain the nutrients needed to be healthy. In turn, some plants become healthy food for us and in this way, we are using technology to replenish nature’s inventory.
Is there anything else that you want us to highlight in the article but we might have missed them in the questions?
Vertical Field is a worldwide agro-tech pioneer in growing solutions for smart cities. As we become aware of the importance of nature in our lives – of the happiness, joy and inner richness it gives us, we understand our need to surround ourselves with a greener and healthier environment.
In the last few decades, technology has always aimed to improve the quality of life, but inevitably has sometimes destroyed nature in the process of advancement: cars, airplanes, cellphones and plastics are all technological inventions that improved our lives, and yet they create air pollution and potentially cause damage to our health. Our technology is doing the opposite; our goal is to revive nature by using technology.
Vertical Field is all about making our cities, buildings, food and our urban life greener, healthier and prettier, emphasizing nature’s value in our lives.