these guys are building Stockholm’s biggest underground “veggie lab”
“This is about as sustainable as it gets.”
Deep inside an abandoned rock cavern in the outskirts of Stockholm, a group of former students have decided to start growing veggies with the goal of building the underground “veggie lab” of the future. We took a tour through forgotten and graffiti-tagged no-mans land, to find the plantation / office of one of today’s most exciting food tech initiatives.
growing plants under cities
“The idea of Urban Oasis is to transform empty underground spaces in cities and turn them into indoor veggie farms. We know that a lot of land owners are happy to rent out these spaces cheaply and that the demand for fresh and sustainable food is growing. The goal for us right now is to scale up the plantation here, make it profitable and to eventually spread this idea to other areas of Stockholm.”
60 years abandoned
“This underground space has not been used in 60 years. Back then it was used as a storage facility for the alcohol monopoly, so all of these rooms were filled with liquor tanks and cylinders. We were able to hear about it through a contact that sold space here, and decided that it would be the ideal place to set up the company – cheap yet close to the marketplace.”
“We only just came up with the idea about a year ago, but already ICA (Sweden’s biggest food chain) and a number of other food retailers have shown interest in our product and it’s being sold in smaller scale to Swedes as we speak. Since we barely have any transportation and can grow plants all year long, this is about as sustainable as it gets.”
how it works
“We produce so called microgreens, which is a smaller form of salad. Some of the things we grow are coriander, red cabbage and basil. It’s perfect for spicing up your sandwich or salad for example. After the seeds are held in water for a day, we put them under these LED light, add water every now and then and grow the products within a few days. The light from these lamps may look energy consuming, but a whole frame of these actually consume less energy than the average water cooler.”
bigger plants coming
“In a few weeks we will start growing leafy greens, which are bigger plants like broccoli, spinach and lettuce. These require more water and light, which is why we’re opening a new room where these will be produced. Other veggies or fruits like tomatoes or bananas are unfortunately as of yet not profitable for us to produce in this kind of environment, since they require so much energy.”
“This car parking lot is where we want to expand our business. It’s rarely being used for parking, and every parking spot costs around 150€ per month to rent which is nothing. We plan to fill up this space with growing veggies from the ground up. If we do the same with all space we have access to here, we could supply around 5 tonnes of greens everyday!”
Nature works in strange ways
“Quite ironically, being down here in the underground and growing microgreens has really made us understand how nature works. It’s pretty amazing how the water and the light can create something so fresh that changes the taste in your food so much. We’re excited to make more people realize the enormous potential of growing food under cities.”
Order something straight from nature via foodora.