“We’re growing more and more into vertical farming as we’re developing various container farms for customers across Europe. At this point in time, we have microgreens farms, strawberry containers, and we’re now working on a mushroom farm,” says Peteris Ozols, Production & Design director and co-founder of Square M2, a Latvian startup.
Square M2’s R&D lab is based in Zagreb, Croatia, whereas the manufacturing site is based in Riga, Latvia. All projects take place in container farms that are served globally. “We see a huge future in container farms because of their modularity. As we’re setting up the entire system inside, they can be shipped out anywhere afterward,” adds Peteris.
Together with Vesela Motika, a Croatian agtech that supplies the software for all containers, Square M2 is able to supply the full growing envelope. For now, the main focus is Western Europe, given the visible demand. After that, Square M2 aims to export to the UK (we have already set up a sales representative in the UK), Germany, and the Gulf region as the forecasts ‘speak for themselves.’
Automating 95% of the processes
On the vertical farming side of things, the company has grand plans set out. Especially their R&D department will get a boost when it comes to further developing the mushroom and strawberry farms. Another goal is to eventually automate the entire growing and maintenance process of the farm by up to 95% so that only 5% of human interaction will take place.
“Yet, prices aren’t certain yet as it mostly results in higher pricing, but when producing at an economy of scale, you’re golden. We want to be a fully vertically integrated company eventually to keep the standards high and costs low. If any process is outsourced, costs rise massively. That’s why we are focusing on making it affordable to everyone,” Peteris adds.
Currently, there’s a large demand for strawberry containers from interested parties. To gain a better understanding of strawberry cultivation, Square M2 has partnered with a horticulture school (Bulduri Horticultural School) that is trying different practices on how to best grow the fruiting crop. “Yet, in general, our R&D purposes are mostly very demand-driven and vary per market,” adds Karlis Levensteins, Co-founder and B4B Development director at the company.
Given their focus on containers, farms don’t mean that they’re limited to custom farms only. “We can supply different solutions based on the customer’s request. Yet, our biggest experience comes from container farms,” Peteris discloses.
Besides edible crops, the founders have done several trials with fodder farming as they see growth potential in that as well. They’ve seen that fodder feed in a mixture with dried feed is much more nutritious for cattle than feeding only dried feed. Yet, that’s a grey area at this point, as they have their hands full on edible crops at this stage.
This salad bar was supplied by M2 as well and grows salad right off the racks for its clients. The bar can be found in Zagreb, Croatia.
Creating a market together with the client
When clients want help analyzing who their clients are, Karlis and Peteris are ready to take on that challenge with them. “By integrating Shopify into our systems, farmers are connected with logistics services and e-commerce services that help to easily sell off and deliver their produce to consumers. Yet, the farmer is directly connected with the end consumer, all within a 5-kilometer radius.
A little help with finances
Besides helping growers find their right outlets, the company will soon add a financing element to its business offering. “We understand that setting up this kind of business is costly. There we can jump in to set up a crowdfunding round to split the risk of such an investment. Since the crowd partially buys out the m2 from your farm, it’s mostly financed by them, which can be up to 30 investors, for instance,” Peteris elaborates.
“We understand that financing is the key to everything. That’s why we are so glad that we soon will be able to serve them a container farm together with these services. It’s great to help ease that out for customers,” Karlis adds.
For more information:
B4B Development director, Co-founder
Production & Design director, Co-founder