The only way is up! Puławy vertical farm first in Europe to supply beauty and health industries with plant extract from herbs
An ‘experimental’ start-up has become the first in Europe to utilise a vertical farm to both grow herbs and produce plant extracts for the beauty, health and pharmaceutical industries.
Vertigo Farms, located in the Puławy Science and Technology Park in the east of Poland grows 11, 000 plants on an area of 300 square metres using 4 metres high metal constructions resembling shelving units, a capacity which would require an area 100 times larger if using a traditional farm.
Established by husband and wife team Anna and Dawid Drzewiecki after their observations of where different plant extracts came from in cosmetics and natural supplements, the company’s innovation is based on their focus on vertical farming for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry as well as their unique form of production, combining the growth of plants and the production of extracts in one place.
The two process of growth and production have hitherto been separate in other companies in the same field, with sites often large distances apart.
Dawid Drzewiecki told Puls Biznesu: “Our idea was to shorten the supply chain and make it independent of logistics.
“These needs were strongly highlighted by the pandemic. Last year, there were delays in production due to difficulties in transport due to closed borders.
“More importantly, climate change is more often disrupting the production of plants, which our method of cultivation enables us to avoid.”
The farm, which is the only vertical farm in Poland focusing on delivery to the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry, currently produces three plant types: basil, coriander and bakuchi, the latter being a herb from Asia often used as a substitute of retinol, a popular ingredient used in anti-ageing and acne creams.
The process starts from seeds which are first kept under lamps and with constant access to water before they sprout, when they are transferred to the 4m units whose shelves are comprised of gutters with peat plant pots where plants are grown under violet lamps with the continual monitoring of various indicators.
The plants are then picked, dried and passed through a machine to extract extracts from them for use in creams, oils and dietary supplements. The whole process requires the service of just four people.
The ambitious company, which sees themselves as filling a niche due to the small number of companies producing plant extracts for the cosmetics, health and pharma sectors, has big expansion plans.
Earlier this year, it signed an important deal for innovative vertical farming technology with a leading Finnish company specialising in the building of vertical farms.
The technology will enable the company to experiment with tropical plants and to grow a wider variety of herbs.
Their aim is to expand to 10-20 plant types by 2022-2023.