BROOKLYN, NY—Kitchen gardens are going high-tech as the development of smart, efficient hydroponic grow systems help both novice and experienced growers from seed to plate. One such company is Farmshelf, based here, which builds smart indoor farms that enable people to grow leafy greens, herbs and flowering crops where they live, work and eat.
“Our bookcase-sized smart, indoor farms are small enough to fit into a restaurant and powerful enough to provide pounds of fresh produce every week. Farmshelf brings the outdoors inside and grows food two to three times faster than conventional farming,” said J.P. Kyrillos, co-founder, Farmshelf.
Farmshelf’s bookcase-style growing system was invented by Andrew Shearer, Farmshelf founder and CEO. He found inspiration through his passion for food, technology, engineering and community.
“He married his years of volunteering experience to fund education in agriculture in Nicaragua’s food-insecure communities, and professional tech experience in Silicon Valley to build a tool that allows people to grow healthful, flavorful food anywhere, any time and know its source,” said Kyrillos.
As a result, the hospitality industry has taken notice. At HX: The Hotel Experience Powered by AAHOA, Farmshelf was the winner of the Best of Show award. Farmshelf has also captured the attention of hotel chefs and high-profile New York restaurateurs like Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster and Jose Andres of Mercado Little Spain, who have entered into partnerships with the company.
“They find as much value in the five to six pounds of leafy greens and herbs the units produce weekly as they do the organic marketing value,” Kyrillos said. “Our partners in the hospitality space share with us that the units add beauty to whatever space they are in. We designed Farmshelf to be eye-catching, and we often see hotel guests and diners in the restaurants that house Farmshelf taking time to really look at the unit, discover what it is and admire what it provides.”
Kyrillos also noted that the chefs at the hotels where Farmshelf is stationed regularly praise the accessibility and freshness of the produce.
“We aim to shorten the distance between farm to plate—a journey that’s often hundreds or thousands of miles—and having fresh herbs and greens right at your fingertips not only allows for speedy and easy access, it provides superior freshness,” he said.
Sustainability is a key facet of the Farmshelf business.
“Farmshelf helps minimize food waste because you know exactly how much produce you are able to harvest at any time, and no food expires in transit,” he said. “Nearly 40% or more of the food we grow in the U.S. ends up in a landfill. That equates to millions of dollars and pounds of food that could have otherwise been used. It’s a solvable problem, and we’re working to lay the building blocks to address it in a scalable way. In addition, Farmshelf uses 90% less water in comparison to traditional soil growing. By enabling you to harvest just what’s needed, Farmshelf also eliminates packaging, environmental impacts from transportation, and food waste.”
Kyrillos noted that the Farmshelf leadership team has seen firsthand the devastation that a lack of access to food causes.
“At Farmshelf, we are passionate about ensuring people have access to fresh, healthful food, anywhere and anytime,” he said. “And, while we are still a young company, we are working to scale our technology so that more people can have access to food.”