Moving Boundaries

Permanent Greenery for the Kitchen

A new indoor-gardening concept brings fresh produce directly to the restaurant kitchen. Guests get to see where the food on their plate is grown and who prepares it for them.

There are no fields or meadows in sight – the vegetables grow right inside the building instead. ‘Indoor farming’ or ‘vertical farming’ is the name of the game, and it is becoming more popular by the day. On the one hand, because the production of our food is a great challenge in view of the growing world population and climate change, on the other hand, because local products and the freshness of the food play an important role in the population. One of the global trendsetter of vertical farming: Japan. Mirai Co., incorporated in 2004, produces around 10,000 heads of lettuce every day.

So what exactly is Indoor-Farming?

  • Vegetables, herbs and plants are grown indoors, mostly in halls or shelves.
  • Hydroponics and artificial light provide the plants with the necessary nutrients and light conditions.

NX-Food, the innovation hub of METRO AG, constantly searches for new technologies, impulses and innovations. Developments that can make their way into retail and reach the masses.

In partnership with the start-up company Natufia Labs from Estonia, NX-Food promotes sustainable, natural solutions in the form of indoor-gardening models for small-scale plant cultivation. Unlike large indoor-farming systems, such as those realised by Infarm in the METRO stores in Friedrichshain and Nanterre, Natufia specialises in concepts that restaurants can implement in their own facilities. Fabio Ziemßen, Director Food Innovation NX-Food, who is in charge of food technology and innovation at METRO, explained: “Retailers explore new concepts of freshness to gain an advantage over online suppliers, while restaurant owners wish to convey a notion of absolute freshness to their guests.”

The fully automated garden systems allow professional and private chefs to grow nearly all common herbs and vegetables in their own kitchen, all year round. Germany’s first Natufia installation is inside Weilands Wellfood in Berlin. NX-Food brought the two partners together. “The herbs and plants inside the Natufia boxes of the restaurant are much more than just decorative elements. They ensure absolute freshness for the guests of Weilands Wellfood”,explains Marian Fuchs, who developed the restaurant concept together with his partner Friso Weiland. Both like to try out new food recipes and innovations that suit them and their philosophy. The restaurant uses its homegrown basil to make its basil pesto, for instance. The Weilands philosophy speaks for itself: “We make healthy things tasty – or tasty things healthy!”


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