ICA Åre, located in one of the leading Scandinavian ski resorts, is the second ICA supermarket store in Sweden to install a hydroponic vertical container farm from Boston-based Freight Farms – providing its customers with just-picked leafy greens grown onsite, year-round.
Housed inside a 13 meter long shipping container, the onsite Freight Farm will reduce ICA Åre’s reliance on transported produce shipped long-distance into the mountain region, while providing pesticide and herbicide-free greens to customers at the peak of freshness year-round.
The initiative, Åre Byodling, was led by ICA Åre store owner Lars Ocklind and real estate company Diös Fastigheter, who recognized the benefits Freight Farms’ environmentally-controlled technology can have in the Nordic climate, particularly within the resort community hub that’s home to ICA Åre, the main train station, and other surrounding stores and restaurants. Ocklind believes that the store’s ability to grow its own crops is an investment in its future and that of its community.
Freight Farms, founded in 2010, pioneered hydronic vertical container farming and has a large network of IoT-connected farms in the world. The container farms, integrated with IoT data platform, farmhand, creates and maintains the optimal growing conditions to harvest crops year-round using less than 5 gallons of water per day. The technology has empowered ICA Åre and ICA Maxi Högskolan to create closed-loop food systems onsite, eliminating transportation emissions. Harvesting crops onsite also keeps crops fresh and nutrient-dense for longer, significantly reducing food waste for both sellers and consumers.
ICA Åre’s first farm harvest is scheduled for mid-October. The supermarket will begin by selling a selection of lettuce, kale and herbs in-store, and crops will also be used in their own restaurant and sold to other restaurants in the village. The range of crop offerings will continue to develop and expand – there is already great interest in collaboration from local restaurateurs for special lines of locally-grown crops.