Supermarket ICA Kvantum Liljeholmen introduced, with assistance from Urban Oasis, a subterranean nursery that doesn’t require any soil.
In a basement space below the supermarket large amounts of fruit and vegetables are cultivated. And that in an underground cultivation space, without soil. However, that does not affect the taste. The products are just as tasty, fresh and healthy as crops that are simply grown in Mother Nature. In addition, underground cultivation has great environmental benefits. With the underground cultivation, a significant step is taken into the future. It does away with over-fertilization, climate-unfriendly transportation or unnecessary import. At the moment, 70 percent of all vegetables in Sweden come from abroad. That figure can soon be lowered considerably. In Liljeholmen, the production of the 50 m2 goes straight to the supermarket salad bar, a distance of 500 meters.
"We can use this technique to cultivate anything we want. We have the motto ‘Break the seasons’. We are just a small step away from sun-ripened tomatoes and ripe strawberries for Christmas," says sales manager Joakim Haraldsson of ICA Kvantum Liljeholm.
The efficient urban cultivation method of Urban Oasis is the result of a pilot project of an inventive foursome: two students from the Technical University, an architect and a financial expert, who set a goal to establish a company for sustainable food production.
"With a so-called hydroponic system you can grow crops in water, without soil. So locally we can cultivate nutritious products in a special environment where horticulture and technology meet. And also in Sweden we can produce fresh, local vegetables all year round," says Albert Payaro, general manager and one of the initiators of Urban Oasis.
Ica Kvantum Liljeholmen had already made great strides in the search for environmentally friendly cultivation methods earlier. Now that the underground cultivation company of Urban Oasis will soon be working even more efficiently, the intention is that more than five tons of vegetables will be produced daily. That must be sufficient to satisfy the hunger of thousands of salad enthusiasts among ICA customers every day.
"ICA is an innovative company. So it is great to work together with other special companies and help them to conquer the market," Joakim Haraldson of ICA concludes.
ICA has established an Entrepreneur Prize that will be awarded to persons who have distinguished themselves in one of these two categories: Local Hero of the Year and Startup of the Year. A cash prize of 10,000 euros is available for both categories. In addition, from 2020 ICA aims to provide 200 new small local entrepreneurs with the opportunity to deliver their products directly to ICA branches.