“Over the years collected 150 crops”: in Kiev under the ground grows organic greens

«За год собираем 150 урожаев»: в Киеве под землей выращивают экологически чистую зелень

Me and my business partners are very encouraged by the fact that the productivity of our vertical of beds has increased over the past year by 40 to 50 percent (growth for different types of crops differ), says one of the founders and Director of the farm “Happiness Zdorovye” Maxim Kirichko. — Our farm is unusual — is in the underground room of one of the Kiev factories. For the arrangement of plantations we spent reconstruction (demolished part of the walls) and did an overhaul. Cleanliness and sterility are supported almost as in the operating room. After all, the aim is not to bring in space fungi, viruses, insect pests that destroy plants. To go to the farm, all mandatory wear indoor shoes, bathrobes on head is a special hat.

“In our herbal nitrate content three times below the norm”

— On our farm, everything is unusual: the beds are arranged vertically one above the other, the light plants receive from the lamps, nutrients from the solution, — continues Maxim Kirichko. — Then you need to explain why do not use normal soil. Under natural conditions the roots of plants take nutrients out of the ground. But must get these substances from the soil? Nature itself demonstrates that there is: in the Amazon there are trees that suck nutrients out of the water. Here we have the herbs get them from the liquid. We have equipped the farm automation, which monitors the composition of the nutrient medium. If any substance becomes less than normal, computer-controlled machine adds it to the solution.

— Are your products environmentally friendly?

Yes. Regularly check nitrates and other unwanted substances. In our plants their content three times below the norm. The products of our farm is cleaner than most that are grown the traditional way — in the ground under the open sky. After all, agribusiness and peasant farmers have not only to make the soil fertilizers, but also to protect plants from pests, diseases, weeds. For this they use all sorts of “chemistry”. We do without all this cost. And to 100 percent to be confident in the environmental safety of the nutrients that feed our plants that manufacture them ourselves — we have an employee solely dedicated to preparing “food” for plants.

Another advantage of the chosen method of cultivation of agricultural products is that we get about 150 crops a year. Cleaning service is provided every two days.

“Before I didn’t have the slightest experience of growing plants”

— Who sell their products?

Now our customers are cafes, bars, restaurants. Their interest in what we sell our herbs at the same price throughout the year (after all, in the underground space there is no winter, summer, autumn or spring there are constantly supported optimum for plant growth conditions). Besides, our products are never contaminated with earth or sand. This is important because the visitors cafes and restaurants want their plates were perfectly clean food, grown in the land of the plant to completely clean out of the ground can be difficult.

Getting ready to start selling our vegetables in supermarkets. If cafes and restaurants to pack the products do not need (and deliver it in boxes) then at the shops she needs to get into the package. For this we need a packaging line. To buy planning to take a loan. Before that we got along without Bank loans.

See also: “Bio”, “eco”, “organic”: how to choose clean food

— How you came up with the idea to create an underground farm?

— A few years ago, when I was a business consultant, I was approached by a client. He had a basement, but the man didn’t know how to use it. This man wanted me as a consultant had offered him a productive business idea. I began to ponder this question by analyzing all the advantages and disadvantages of the basement. As a result, I had the plan to create a farm there. The client is in my idea not believe, and I decided to test your idea for viability.

Just as the work of a business consultant ceased to inspire me, I wanted to do something else. I quit my job without having a clear perspective. That was something to live, continued to earn the same specialty (as a freelancer), and all the rest of the time was devoted to the farm.

— Started the project themselves?

— No, with my friend Alexander by Krivchenkova. I knew that he enjoys growing plants at home — on the windowsill, the balcony. We have studied the available Internet information about vertical greenhouses and set out to do: went to the store for materials. Bought a plastic tube, bent three bends. Did holes in them where you have placed the seedlings. Pump tubing delivers the nutrient solution up, it flows through the pipes, bathing the roots of plants. Pipes are supplied so that they form a circle, reminiscent of the Colosseum. In the middle of the circle, we set the lamp. It turned out that the light source is located at the same distance from all plants.

We fed the greens with carbon dioxide. Put the bottle and a special device metered served in the room is carbon dioxide. Once Alexander and I had to leave for a few days. When returned we were in for a surprise: the leaves of plants appeared up to half a meter in length. The reason was that the gas flow Adjuster is broken and the carbon dioxide began to come out of the balloon in large volumes. It stimulated the growth.
By the way, many of the tricks of innovative farming we had to get on their own — for Ukraine it is something new, therefore, to consult almost no one. Notice that the first vertical farm appeared abroad ten years ago. The leader in this business now is USA.

— How much time it took to create the farm?

A year. In 2016 we started with the construction of a simple vertical garden. And the first batch of products have implemented in the fall of 2017. The start was successful, because our greenery is much cheaper and fresher than imported from Europe.

— You have a lot of employees?

— No. A significant part of the operations on care of plants are automated. Manual labor is used for planting (by the way, we use seed from the Netherlands) and harvest. In the two years since the start of the farm number of business partners increased.

. Transport them much easier than round. In addition, these fruits are never rolled away from the table.

As a veteran of the anti-terrorist operation told the “FACTS”, as it became a successful farmer, having been engaged in the berry business in Ukraine.

The photo in the header Maxim Kirichko (left) and Alexander Krivchenkov on his farm (Photo from website seattlehelpers.org)

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