When strolling through Antwerp’s harbor, at one point you’ll stumble upon some stacked containers. In between these containers, there’s a small indoor farm supplying a healthy daily dose of vitamins to the city’s residents.
PLNT currently supplies consumers and a few restaurants that are serving residents via takeaway menus in the city of Antwerp. The company uses Urban Crop Solutions’ FarmPRO container farm. The farm itself has a growing area of 120m2 whereas another shipping container is used for seeding, harvesting, packaging and any other processes, next-doors.
At this point, Niels de Caigny, co-founder of PLNT says that the company harvest around 4000 plants per week. Once harvested, the crops are put in reusable containers and delivered to clients by e-bike.
(F.l.t.r.), Hans Snijder and Niels de Caigny
“We’re currently offering a product range of fourteen different herbs and some leafy greens. Producing on demand has become a lot harder these days, however, we’re glad to be still up and running,” says Niels. As of now, the company is operating on its own investments, but Hans Snijder, co-founder and angel investor, says to be looking to expand nationally and eventually be present in any large European city.
The processing room next-door
With this pilot farm, the company is looking to experiment with growing recipes, the farming management platform and crop growth. Niels adds, “We want to enable local production anywhere in Belgium, and Europe because it’s a great addition to any city.”
PLNT is rather satisfied with its farm, however, they’re currently developing a platform that allows them to run, analyze, and optimize the farming operations. “It’s great to grow 24/7 year-round, but we’d like to get more in-depth into our operation to see where we can optimize where needed and have full control over the farm,” says Hans.
Keeping sustainability in mind in every aspect, PLNT is looking to reuse and repurpose as much as possible throughout the production processes. “As our substrate is imported from Sri Lanka, we’d also like to see it being reused in biomasses or any of that kind,” says Hans. The substrate has a bio-degradable plastic wrap around it, therefore, the recycling method is not clear yet. We are working on compostable options to re-purpose the current waste. The control software will allow for remote farm control, traceability of crops and most important data analysis to optimize harvests as much as possible.