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Osnat Michaeli is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of the indoor farming start-up Infarm. The Berlin-based company builds ultra-efficient vertical farms in the heart of the city that are responsive to the urban community’s growing demand for a local, transparent and dynamic food system. In this way, Infarm wants to create intelligent city-farm networks that will lay the foundation for the next agricultural revolution.
Infarm’s headquarters, located in an industrial building in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, is a workplace, vertical farm and research laboratory all in one. Desks intermingle with high-tech apparatuses and ivy climbs the wall. It is here that Infarm is developing their patented vertical farming technology and laying the groundwork for an entirely new food system. “We hope that this technology will help cities to become food independent,” says Osnat Michaeli. “Our farms can be deployed in any given space, even at a retailer’s point of sale. This concept significantly reduces the supply chain, providing fresh, nutrient-rich and pesticide-free herbs and vegetables directly to consumers,” she emphasises. “This is the clarity that conscious consumers are now demanding. They want access to a transparent supply chain that provides them with details of where their food comes from and what it consists of.” The dedicated forward-thinker is convinced that food production is on the verge of a radical change. “The inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts that a vertical farming revolution will take place within the next decade,” she says. “Infarm’s technologies will play a central role in that.”
Osnat Michaeli came to Berlin from Israel in 2012 with the other two members of Infarm’s founding team, Chief Executive Officer Erez Galonska and Chief Technology Officer Guy Galonska. “As the capital of the international urban farming movement, Berlin is the best location for us,” she says. The catalyst for the founding of the start-up was her encounter with Erez Galonska. “Erez lived in the Canary Islands for a long time, where he nourished himself exclusively from food products that he grew on his own,” reports Osnat Michaeli. The couple started to explore growing vegetables in an urban context. “We built our first indoor farm in our living room in the Neukölln district of Berlin. When it was snowing outside, we were inside harvesting fresh vegetables and exotic herbs.” The experience of growing food independently was empowering and encouraged them to start Infarm.
In late 2015, METRO Cash & Carry and Infarm launched the first herb- and vegetable-growing facility at the wholesale store in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district, with sales beginning in February 2016. Diverse plant varieties continuously flourish there in a space of about five square metres – for METRO customers who value fresh, healthy, premium-quality products.