VAXA introduces a new way of farming

12-10-2021    14:02   |    Grapevine

What do you see when envisioning a farm? A rustic house in the countryside, surrounded by tilled fields with healthy crops wavering in a light breeze? While this romantic image might be preserved in the minds of many, the future of agriculture looks a lot different.

Vertical farming is a new, efficient way of growing crops. It uses soilless farming techniques and aims to optimize plant growth by controlling all the aspects of the process. The gist of vertical farming is that it enables farmers to grow more produce in smaller areas than regular farms, since the crops are grown in stacked layers rather than on expansive fields. It is a step towards a more sustainable future—and one that’s been taken by VAXA.

Sci-fi setting in an industrial area

Located within a 10-minute drive from central Reykjavík, VAXA farm holds court in a grey industrial building next to Bauhaus. Looking at the building, it’s hard to imagine it houses one of Europe’s largest vertical farms. Nothing suggests that this place is home to an ample amount of greens.

When stepping inside the building, you can’t help thinking that the place must be a backdrop for a sci-fi movie. It feels like you’ve entered a space station orbiting the Earth.

Upon entering the growing room, visitors are equipped with lab coats and shoe covers. Hands are required to be sanitized before going into the area, and many doors need to be opened before reaching the destination.

As the Icelandic winter draws in we’re reaching for our comfy traditional lopapeysa sweaters, the beautiful woollen garments which have been keeping Icelanders warm for generations. They’re available for international delivery through our online shop, and ours are hand-knitted right here in Iceland from local wool.

That’s when that ingrained image of a farm goes through a complete metamorphosis: farming at VAXA is on a whole new level–quite literally. Growing the produce takes place indoors, without even the slightest sight of sunlight. The plants are grown on multiple floors, stacked one on top of the other. Each floor is divided into two levels: the upper one carries the greens and the lower is filled with water, which the plants then absorb. Sunlight is replaced with countless LED lights, while heat and humidity are adjusted with air conditioning, and dozens of fans mimic the wind. The process is meticulously controlled to create ideal conditions for the greens to grow.

The result is shelves overflowing with healthy heads of lettuce, baby leaves, herbs, and micro greens, all packed with flavour. VAXA produces only greens at the moment, though they have experimented with growing kohlrabi and parsnips as well. Each month, the farm cultivates a hefty amount of greens, which are sold to Icelandic restaurants, grocery stores, and individual customers who have signed up for a weekly farm box delivery.

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Photo by Petr Magera on Unsplash

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