• Thursday, Oct 22, 2020
  • Last Update : 10:23 am

Pandemic forces pink farm to get creative in Brazil

  • Published at 01:28 pm September 15th, 2020
Pink Farm Brazil
A worker tends to lettuce under artificial lights at the Pink Farms warehouse, in Sao Paulo on August 28, 2020 AFP

To respond to the pandemic, Pink Farms shifted its sales online and developed a new product line, ‘microgreens’

At a warehouse on the west side of Sao Paulo, fruits and vegetables grow within a tower stacked 10 storeys high with plants, all bathed in an ethereal pink light.

This is Pink Farms, the first vertical farm in the teeming Brazilian city of 12 million people, where land is scarce and produce usually has to be shipped in from afar.

The farm consists of two towers, each about the surface area of a small studio apartment, one eight stories high and the other 10.

Using soil-less growing technology, an irrigation system that recycles its own water, and red and blue LED lights -- which combine to make pink -- the towers supply around 100 times more food than a similar surface area of farmland, with 95 percent less water, according to co-founder Gerardo Maia.

Maia, a 29-year-old engineer, launched the project in 2018 with two colleagues, and started production last year.

The company soon carved out a niche for itself selling fresh, hyper-local produce to restaurants.

Everything was going well until the coronavirus pandemic hit.

As cases soared in Brazil, now the country with the second-highest death toll worldwide after the United States, Sao Paulo, the epicentre of the outbreak, went into lockdown -- including Pink Farms' clients.

"The pandemic has been really hard. We had to find another path. But we've come up with other opportunities. It's all about constantly improving," said Maia, as employees in protective masks, gloves and caps carefully sorted and packaged produce.

To respond to the pandemic, Pink Farms shifted its sales online and developed a new product line, "microgreens" -- early-harvest leaf vegetables packed with nutrients and flavour.

Maia says he does not believe vertical farming will replace traditional farming.

But as Brazil struggles with the encroachment of farms and ranches on the Amazon rainforest and other environmental problems linked to agriculture, he says the idea of "growing up," not out, represents a valuable alternative.

"We're closer to the end-market, so we pollute less with transportation, and we don't use toxic chemicals of any kind. Our products are much cleaner, with less risk for consumers," he told AFP.

"That's why we say this is the productive process of the future."

blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail