“We’ll be establishing two new facilities within two years. Both farms will be built inside large shopping malls based in İstanbul,” says Halil Beşkardeşler, CEO and co-founder of Plant Factory. Besides creating two new facilities, the company is aiming to strengthen its production capacity and R&D efforts through these new projects.
Plant Factory Turkey is an agtech company based in Istanbul, Turkey. Recently, the company bagged 2 million euros in funding. As a result of the investment, the company will be constructing two new facilities to commercialize its products and improve R&D processes. The first one is Plant Factory’s first and second production facility in Istanbul, based in the city’s most popular shopping malls. Secondly, the company will activate its new R&D facility in Gebze Technical University.
Farm inside a shopping mall
In total, 2,800 crops will be grown per day in the new 1100m2 new farm, with a 500m2 production area. The new farm includes two climate chambers where the team will grow four types of lettuce: chard, kale, pak choi, mizuna and two types of basil. The crops are based on the requirements B2B and B2C channel based in the mall.
“Our biggest limitation is the height of the room, which limits scaling up. However, we can always expand into a bigger facility as there’s plenty of room left on this floor. We created a new method for our production lines, meaning harvesting every day, which is the main plan for now. In the later stages, we’ll create more facilities around the city,” notes Ahmet Güney, co-founder and chief engineer of Plant Factory.
While growing plants inside the mall, Plant Factory targets 40.000 visitors a day (on average). Besides focusing on B2C, they’re also implementing a B2B business plan, targeting restaurants based inside the mall. "Now, our aim is to supply the end-users inside the building, creating a new supply chain model." The other farm location cannot be disclosed yet due to privacy reasons.
R&D facility inside a university
Together with the university, PF will work on functional foods and the opportunities of vertical farming combined. Besides that, they’ll look into creating crops that are required for special diets for vegans, vegetarians.
Halil says that the following investment will allow them to focus on creating growing recipes for tomatoes, berries and so on. Lots of R&D has been done yet, he explains, but another 200-300.000 dollars is needed to develop and roll out these systems. “Before we’ll dive into that, we have to commercialize our leafy greens first. Every step takes a certain risk, that’s why we want to take it slow, going step by step. Then we’ll see what happens.”
Education on vertical farming
Plant Factory started kicking off workshops in PF001, the company’s most recently constructed farm in Istanbul. “Many people came around and are enjoying the education on vertical farming thus far. Since climate awareness is increasing, it becomes more appealing to many,” notes Ahmet.
Not only the in-house workshops are a hit, but the integrated vertical farming education segment in Istanbul’s most famous chef school as well. With the help of Plant Factory, the course integrated specially cultivated crops into the course. “Throughout the course, we help chefs understand how we can grow specific crops for them in order to create their own unique menus. Even so, with this course, we’re building more awareness of indoor farming.”
Sometimes, chefs are invited into the PF001 facility where they’ll be educated for half a day on every farming process, from seed to harvest.