“We started the company when we realized that vertical farming technologies could be brought even closer to where produce is being consumed,” says Olivier Francescangeli, Co-founder at VaVersa.
Vaversa, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is a provider of growing cabinets to chefs, large caterers and hotel chains. The company believes that professional chefs, now more than ever, have a role and a responsibility in transforming and inspiring consumers in the ways we source, consume and cook food. They are also the most interested in high-quality produce, therefore Vaversa is there creating a solution that caters to professional chefs.
The company is not focusing on larger facilities as there’s also a role to play for decentralized vertical farming, as Olivier puts it. He explains that their business model is different from large farms as they don’t sell produce themselves. VaVersa makes it possible for professional chefs to grow their own ingredients, consistently and productively.
MiA, the growing cabinet allows chefs to grow global ingredients, ultra-locally. “However, our indoor gardens are not a gimmick, they are smart and highly productive. Our aim is to make professional chefs self-sustaining in certain categories, like microgreens and herbs. Many of the varieties our chefs can grow are rarely or not at all available in the market,” Olivier adds.
Chef Niels van Zijl is one of VaVersa’s early partners and system user
Changes in big kitchens
According to Olivier, professional kitchens need tools to create better experiences for their customers, especially after COVID. At the same time, large organizations want to reduce their footprint and incorporate more sustainable solutions.
Olivier states, “Conveniently, we help them do both. We’re seeing a growing interest in making big changes in professional kitchens, but it is still early days. The advantage of visible solutions like ours makes it possible to bring more transparency in the supply chain and to educate customers.”
The VaVersa team
Design and functionality
After a couple of years of research and pilots, the company decided on a combination that made sense, in terms of how much is being produced, modularity, and space. At the same time, both co-founders aspired for chefs to place a growing cabinet somewhere between the sitting area and the kitchen. This would make it an eye-catcher for customers on one hand.
On the other hand, it was very important that the device would be adaptable to various interiors. The cabinet is available in three different wood colors. MiA is 100 x 93 x 232 and consists of 5 layers, with 4 spots per layer. The growing surface is equivalent to 5m2 growing space in total.
The MiA growing cabinet
Users have access to a member area platform on the VaVersa website, whereas the team is the ones who receive and use the data. Olivier adds, “We decided to eliminate all the gimmicks from our solution because chefs care about consistency, quality and ease of use.”
As of now, the team has successfully grown hundreds of varieties. Now, their focus is on specialty herbs and microgreens mostly. Olivier explains that they’re progressively introducing new varieties, with input and ideas from chefs.