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Norway: Cave farm uses natural insulation to cut down OpEx, delivering 1500kg of greens monthly

"We are cultivating inside a cave that has natural insulation and stable temperatures year-round. Even when temperatures are below zero outside, the cave has a stable temperature of around 6 degrees Celsius. Most indoor farms strive to get the temperature down while we try to get the temperature up, which is a unique 'issue' to have," says Rafik Halabi, co-founder of Gruve Gront. Founded by Rafik Halabi and Peyman Karim Afshar, Gruve Gront has been around for two years.

A part of the cultivation area is seen in the photo

Making use of Mother Nature
Located 15km west of Norway's capital, Gruve Gront hides its precious produce in a rather unusual location. To get to their farm, you're up for an adventure first. Entering the caves of Sandvika, a small farm emerges in the 30.000m2 cave. Covering 500m2, Gruve Gront cultivates microgreens, baby leaves, edible flowers, cherry tomatoes, chilies, and small cucumbers.

Despite its perhaps tricky but very well-insulated location, the vertical farm supplies its greens to a small circle around them, close to Oslo, covering HoReCa, fine dining restaurants, and gourmet food stores to slightly bridge the seasonality gaps when temperatures don't allow for outside cultivation.

"We're distributing over 1500kg of microgreens per month. The rest we don't weigh as we sell them by pieces, depending on the orders, which differ every time," says Rafik, who doesn't find an issue, given the flexibility of their system. They can easily adopt changes to the system when more production or additional crops are needed.

Due to the harsh external factors, growers are limited to growing their produce outside for a short period. "We should have more indoor farms in Norway, however, energy consumption is quite a challenge. Using natural insulation and heat from the cave allows us to be much lower in energy consumption compared to traditional greenhouse growers and other vertical farms."

The Avisomo and Gruve Gront team paying a visit to the farm

A flexible system for a complex location
We have the potential to expand our cultivation footprint to a total of 10.000m2, thus we can play around until then. Rafik explains, "We needed a flexible system that would support numerous different varieties and crops given the diversity of our requests. A mono-crop automatic farm wasn't in the books for us, yet Avisomo's versatile Growth Stations allow us to be flexible in growing whichever crop we'd like at any point in time."

Compared to a fixed system in terms of irrigation, piping, and lighting, the Growth Stations aren't rigid, which makes them modular and easy to move around. "All you need to do is change the height of the trays, the height of the water funnels, and the lights. We have no piping in the trays, but an extended part of the system takes care of that. If you want to grow hops, for instance, you just remove the various layers, add the right (side) lighting configuration, and start from the ground up," Endre Harnes, Chief Commercial Officer at Avisomo, shares.

For more information:
Gruve Gront


Endre Harnes, Chief commercial officer