“As we’re located in Italy, a country with great farming traditions, some people would think that we don’t need indoor farming. But, especially today, this is wrong. In fact, we import a great part of our food, and while adverse climate events are always more frequent, the fertility of the soil is decreasing rapidly and water scarcity is becoming a real problem in more and more areas”. Guido Medici says. “So, indoor and vertical farming can be a great solution to produce high-quality food close to the market. These are the cases of our friends of Agricola Moderna and Planet Farms, both vertical farms which are located outside of Milan”, Guido states.
Lorenzo Franchini adds, “There is a generational shift taking place in the agricultural sector, as more people are open to innovation. The challenge is to find the right set up to get started. Hopefully, more European governments are going to direct public investments in the sustainable farming sector, so this will definitely become easier-going in the future. Speaking of crops, although they are quite unknown in Italy, microgreens are the most interesting to grow here. We think that people will be immediately convinced by their delicious taste and high nutritional power.”
Sananbio's growing system
Guido and Lorenzo have worked together as intermediaries, since 2017. They founded the project Vertical Farming Consulting to help customers finding the right set up to start their own farm. “We’re cooperating with SananBio (vertical farming racks), Monti & C (climate rooms), and with Ferriplastic (irrigation and installation). Through these partnerships, we are able to stand by the customer through all the project phases, from the initial idea to the active production.
Together with our partners, we have designed a layout that is easily scalable. Clients seem to like that idea as it allows for expansion. They can start with a small part of the farm, like 60 sq. m., and then increase production once the demand will grow. The aim of VFC is to offer a turnkey vertical farm…”, Franchini adds,“…while our future goal is to create an association for vertical farming in Italy, to bring all indoor farmers together in the country, to obtain a more powerful voice”, Medici states.
The fixed layout of a VFC’s farm
How it all started
“We originally started with a vertical farming blog, visiting farms, and attending important events in the sector. More and more people were requesting information on vertical farming, so we started our own consultancy project” says Franchini. “Together with our partners, we are currently finalizing a vertical farm in Southern Italy for the production of microgreens.”, adds excitedly Guido, “The new facility will be opening its doors at the end of this summer.”
The Vertical Farming Education’s team: (F.l.t.r.) Guido Medici, Alessandro Russo Montecchio, and Lorenzo Franchini
Educating kids through hydroponics
Vertical Farming Education (VFE) is an environmental education laboratory. The laboratory was designed in 2019 by Guido and Lorenzo, in collaboration with Alessandro, a psychologist who is extremely passionate about nature and plants. “The goal of VFE is to increase awareness of the water footprint of food among young students. We’ll start with primary and secondary schools, and eventually, we will scale up the project for older students,” Lorenzo states. “We developed a four-week workshop, divided into five lessons. The practical part is carried out by the installation of a small in-class vertical farm rack. This allows students to grow small salad portions by themselves.
The in-class vertical rack
The theoretical part is carried out by providing schools all supporting teaching material, such as exercises, theory and questionnaires”, Guido adds. The VFE’s Team is now working on the realization of 20 workshops in 10 different schools which will be held at the beginning of 2021.
Vertical Farming Education
Alessandro Russo Montecchio, Co-founder
Guido Medici, Co-founder
Lorenzo Franchini, Co-founder