The point of vertical farming is to grow fresh products locally and cut the price to make them affordable for everyone. Paris-based vertical farming company Champerché’s goal has been exactly that since its creation. “For instance, 1kg of basil costs around 150 euros, we sell it for less than half this price – that’s just insane,” says Maxime Fradin, R&D engineer at Champerché.
Champerché initially set up a small 42m² farm to see if the model worked. Then, they expanded into a 1,300 m² farm in Sartrouville, just 10km away from Paris. “Most of the time in the indoor sectors, you’d find farms that are built anew. We decided to reuse old areas in the city.”
Bioponics, truly organic
Currently, the goal of the farm is to produce 2 tons of herbs per month. To do that, the company utilizes the entirety of each plant, carrying multiple harvests out of the same plants. “For instance, we have a basil on the farm that has been producing for more than three years,” he continues.
Of course, all of this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the bioponics approach of Champerché. “Most companies decide to work as hospital rooms to exclude the plant from its environment. At Champerché, we have decided to create an indoor ecosystem, letting insects come inside and manage them to optimize production. On top of that, we only use organic fertilizers.”
Nothing goes to waste
The sustainable mentality, and their approach of not wasting anything, found in the cut herbs the perfect crop for Champerché. “We want to be as circular as possible. We don’t want to produce any waste. For instance, when we produce more than expected and can’t sell it to our consumers, we transform the plants. So, we are going to make pesto out of the excess basil,” he points out.
“The company basically uses byproducts to solve any overproduction issue. “If not even the cook would utilize the excess cut herbs, we’d transform that into compost and use that as a fertilizer for our plants.”
With regards to sustainability, Champerche’ has developed a concept that doesn’t require them to overuse HVAC. “We use outside air for that,” Maxime explains. “The air goes through filters, and the difference in air balance between outdoors and indoors allows us to have a stable environment.”
According to Maxime, their farm concept can be particularly suitable for difficult climate conditions markets. Currently, the company is planning on expanding and launching a new farm. “We have our eyes on different sites here in Paris. But our farming concept is particularly suitable for harsh climates, so we are looking forward to setting up a farm outside of France.”
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Maxime Fradin, R&D