Grocers are in constantly pursuit of ways to connect their customers with the freshest, highest quality produce, but it’s a challenge when veggies have to be harvested at the farm and transported to market. INFARM is cutting out the middle man by placing vertical micro-farms inside Berlin supermarkets, as a way to deliver the freshest possible produce to hungry customers. The “farming as a service” option is testing out a live herb garden right in the aisles of METRO Cash & Carry and, if consumers like it, we may be seeing the beginning of a new trend in supermarket fare.

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The indoor urban farming pioneers launched the in-store micro-farm six months ago, as the start of a year-long pilot program. Currently, the vertical greenhouse grows only herbs and salad greens, but INFARM says the modular micro-farm equipment can be reconfigured to grow other crops, too – including tomatoes, peppers, and other plants that grow well in an aquaponic environment. The Berlin grocery marks “the first in-store farm in Europe,” according to Fabio Ziemssen, METRO’s head of food innovation, and INFARM has its sights on expanding into other supermarket locations once the pilot program ends.

Related: Origami-inspired micro garden gives city dwellers an easy way to grow fresh organic veggies at home

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Reducing the need to transport produce means customers can have their greens and herbs with a smaller carbon footprint. The onsite aquaponic farm also uses less water and less energy than traditional methods of farming and, because the produce is harvested moments before it’s purchased, the quality is higher as well. Home cooks are likely to respond positively to this ‘fresher, better’ option, but INFARM’s micro-farms could be sprouting up in Berlin restaurants, too, as professional chefs increase demands for better quality ingredients.

With six months left in the Berlin pilot program, INFARM aims to begin manufacturing other units by the end of this year.

Via Treehugger

Images via Merav Maroody for INFARM