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Vertical Farms Are On Their Way To Restaurants, Thanks To This Startup

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May. 26 2019, Updated 11:52 a.m. ET

We all know about the steadfast 100-mile-diet, but how about a 100-foot-diet? As chefs across the world look to reduce their carbon footprint and source ingredients from local farms, a Melbourne startup is bringing the farm into the restaurant with vertical, edible farms that grow on the wall right inside the restaurant. 

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Farmwall utilizes a closed-loop, aquaponic system using water, fish, and sun to grow produce. It eliminates packaging waste and high food miles while introducing quality, freshness, and variety into Melbourne’s restaurants. Farmwall employs a roving group of farmers and builders who will install custom mini-farms to match the decor of the restaurant. A custom aquarium will match the facade while providing nutrients and recycled water to the trays of micro-greens and herbs above. Like the popular succulent walls, Farmwall will also provide an attractive dose of green in any restaurant or cafe while also providing an eco-friendly source for fresh produce.

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“If we grow our food in coherence with natural ecosystems and implement this mindset in designing our living spaces, we create a beautiful, healthier environment for ourselves, as well as solving major issues that cause climate change and pollution," said Farmwall cofounder, Geert Hendrix.

Agriculture is the world’s second largest contributor to greenhouse gases after the energy sector, pouring six billion tons of gases into the atmosphere in 2011, according to the World Resources Institute. Sixty-five percent of these emissions come from the addition of natural or synthetic fertilizers and wastes to soils, a process of farming that is completely omitted in the aquaponic system. 

Additionally, the process of importing food contributes nearly 250,000 tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year, equivalent to 40,000 vehicles on the road, or nearly two power plants. Eating local – and hyperlocal, like Farmwall's system – can cut these emissions completely. 

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"The world looks like a very bright, positive, and happy space when we imagine our cities as green, natural and productive spaces: abundance, resilience, jobs and community without harming our environment," Hendrix explained.

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