Become an A&B portal user and receive giveaways!
Become an A&B portal user and receive giveaways!

What does it involve? - a conversation with Matilda Szyrle about vertical farms

09 of February '22

Vertical farms are becoming an increasingly common source of food worldwide. Their development makes it possible to reduce the supply chain, cut down on water use, and get rid of pesticides. Will such farms help us get on the road to sustainability? How this type of cultivation will allow us to change our cities, as well as influence cities will be told by Matilda Szyrle, CEO of Listny Miracle , a startup dedicated to vertical farms.

Wiktor Bochenek: What are microcrops grown by your startup?

Matilda Szyrle: A microplant is a stage of development where the plant is no longer a sprout, as it already has an inedible root, but it is also not an adult plant.

Wiktor Bochenek: How much, more or less, do microleaves grow?

Matilda Szyrle: From seven to ten days. Microleaves are called a superfood because they have a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. In addition, they taste great and can be used in a wide variety of cuisines. Microlives can be added to everything from snacks to main dishes - soups, salads to desserts or drinks. They are the perfect complement to a meal.

miejskie farmy wertykalne pozwalają przede wszystkim na hodowanie sałat, mikroliści i warzyw

Urban vertical farms primarily allow you to grow lettuces, microleaves and vegetables

© Listny Miracle

Wiktor Bochenek: Vertical farming is slowly breaking through in the media. What is the difference between it and traditional?

Matilda Szyrle: Vertical farming is conducted indoors under controlled conditions. It can be a small urban farm like ours or massive halls. They are grown on vertical walls.

Vertical farms use water in a circular way, it circulates many times. This saves ninety to ninety-five percent of water compared to traditional farming. We on our tiny farm on thirty square meters of crops saved one hundred and six tons of water last year.

Another advantage is the reduction of herbicides and pesticides. On vertical farms, these can be avoided because the crops are protected from the outside world. That's why, for example, our crops are certified for organic farming. Vertical farms are also year-round. This reduces the need to import food from the other side of the world, which is common today. Shortening the supply chain reduces the carbon footprint of transportation. At Listny Mi racle, we also reduce the use of plastic on occasion, which is unnecessary with shorter transportation, by using biodegradable packaging.

farmy wertykalne pozwalają na ograniczenie zużycia wody i pestycydów

Vertical farms reduce water and pesticide use

© Listny Miracle

Wiktor Bochenek: OK, since vertical farming allows for reduced space use, shorter supply chains, less water and land, what are the drawbacks. Often vertical farming is accused of consuming a lot of electricity.

Matilda Szyrle: The issue of energy is important. Especially in Poland, where in most cases our energy sources are not neutral. We at the moment use traditional energy, but we want to eventually switch to renewable energy sources. This may be a drawback, but it can be solved if we use the right source. Such solutions are already in use in Denmark, for example.

It is worth noting that vertical farms mainly use LED lamps, whose energy intensity has fallen by about ninety percent in recent years. If we compare this to industrial agriculture, energy is also needed there, for example, when using agricultural equipment.

za największą wadę farm wertykalnych uznaje się energochłonność, co nie jest do końca prawdą jeśli weźmiemy pod uwagę energochłonność rolnictwa przemysłowego

energy intensity is considered the biggest disadvantage of vertical farms, which is not quite true if we consider the energy intensity of industrial agriculture

© Listny Miracle

Wiktor Bochenek: Going back to microleaves, what can be grown outside of them in vertical farms? In which "fields" do they compete with industrial agriculture. What will this look like in the future?

Matilda Szyrle: Currently, the most common crops on vertical farms are herbs, lettuces and microleaves as we do, but in recent years it has also become standard to grow tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries. I have seen research on growing potatoes on vertical farms. It could be that in the next few years the amount of vegetables and fruits grown vertically will increase significantly.

Wiktor Bochenek: How big can vertical farms be? Can food production happen only in large halls, or will we see small modular farms next to stores, offices and offices in the future?

Matilda Szyrle: We have a room the size of forty meters in Listny Miracle, but vertical farms can also be large halls. A farm is now being built near London, which is to be a dozen stories high. It is expected to meet about seventy percent of the UK's demand for fresh greens. At the same time, a project is underway in Ukraine that will grow plants in shipping containers alongside grocery stores. At the other end of the scale are vertical farms designed for individual use at home - the smallest ones can be the size of a parking meter or a suitcase.

CEO Listnego Cudu, Matylda Szyrle z wyhodowanymi mikroliściami

CEO of Listny Miracle, Matilda Szyrle with grown microgreens

© Listny Miracle

Wiktor Bochenek: You have one farm today at the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology. Imagine that you want to expand further. Can urban vertical farms be adapted to different buildings? Can we introduce such agriculture into disused post-industrial, residential or office buildings?

Matilda Szyrle: Vertical farms can be introduced in a variety of buildings. What is needed is water, electricity and meeting the appropriate sanitary conditions. Preferably, they should be high-rise rooms, which allows for an increased growing area. Post-industrial buildings could be adapted to farms as much as possible. We will be moving to a new location in Warsaw with just such a character. Adapting buildings for vertical farms is possible, allowing us to find new functions for such buildings.

Wiktor Bochenek: What are your plans for the future?

Matylda Szyrle: We are developing in two ways. On the one hand, we are a producer of fresh greens. We want to establish another farm in another city. In the future we would like to be available in many cities in Poland. Today our products can be bought in Warsaw. We are also expanding our offer with new species of microleaves and other products.

At the same time, we are also a technology manufacturer. We have created in-store vertical farms, where plants are automatically lighted and watered. We are working on office vertical farms that will be available to employees.

Wiktor Bochenek: Thank you for the interview!

farmy wertykalne mogą stać się kolejną funkcją dla budynków postindustrialnych, które przestały pełnić swoją funkcję

Vertical farms can become another function for post-industrial buildings that have ceased to serve their purpose

© Listny Miracle

interviewed Wiktor Bochenek

The vote has already been cast