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Urban farming

Food & Drink

Companies like Omlet, Kuhleasing and Crushpad are making it fun for (sub)urban consumers to either grow and produce their own food, while adding a dose of convenience to the fast growing organic movement.

Not exactly hot news: discerning consumers want healthy, tasty, and increasingly also organic produce from trusted sources, if not their own backyard. Pretty hot news: companies that deliver on this desire, either by making it easy for consumers to grow and produce their own food, or by adding a dose of convenience to the fast growing organic movement. Here are six spottings begging to be copied in whatever (urban) environment you may find yourself in: • UK based Omlet brings hens to consumers’ gardens and thus fresh eggs to their table every morning. The company has designed a hen kit for the town or suburban garden, aimed at first time chicken owners, families and eco-savvy individuals. How it works? Omlet supplies organically reared and fully vaccinated female chickens (no early morning cock-a-doodle-doo), at a cost of GBP 365 (USD 700 / EUR 550). The two-hen service comes complete with an ‘Eglu’, an eye-catching, 21st century version of the henhouse. Springwise foresees over-easy market opportunities from Stockholm gardens to Manhattan roof top terraces. • Urban wine is now a reality thanks to Crushpad. A licensed winery in the heart of San Francisco, the 9,000 square feet facility caters to aspiring winemakers, wine retailers and restaurateurs, assisting them in creating as little as 25 cases of ultra-premium, branded yet affordable wines (in their own words: ‘end-to-end winemaking from grapes to bottle’). Crushpad provides the equipment, winemaking talent, and fruit sourced from well known California vineyards. For wine fanatics who don’t live in the Bay Area, Crushpad’s extensive online courses will do the job. But since nothing beats real-world tastings, may we suggest that urban entrepreneurs near the world’s great vineyards, from Melbourne to Cape Town to Bordeaux, pay attention and take a cue from Crushpad? And how about a Crushpad for cheese, to name just one high-interest edible delight? • Talking about cheese: Swiss lets consumers ‘lease’ a Swiss cow (which can be fully arranged for online, of course), and receive Swiss cheese made from that cow’s milk. About 28 cows are currently still available (out of 100), with a one year ‘full’ lease plan costing CHF 380 (USD 320 / EUR 245 / GBP 170). This yields its leaseholder between 60-120 kilograms of cheese per year. Customers are expected to work at least one day in Kuhleasing’s alpine meadows before collecting their cheese in the autumn, which makes the Swiss program less suitable for truly global exploitation. So we can definitely see clever Dutch and Danish farmers copying this scheme to provide consumers and restaurants around the world with something exclusive and tasty, including a great breakfast/dinner story!• In fact, cutting out the middle man, and delivering fresh produce straight from the farm to downtown and uptown dinner tables, is a fast growing phenomenon from the US to Brazil. Sure, produce delivery by mail has been around for decades, but the trend now is small-scale, organic producers delivering straight to consumers. Check out Baldwin Beef, a US-based family operated beef farm that sells directly to consumers. The farm’s steer calves are grazed on high quality grass for eight months, and all beef is pasture-based, finished on grass and limited high-protein and high-fiber supplements, dry-aged, frozen and conveniently boxed. The same concept with a vegetarian twist applies to Brazilian Sitio da Boa Terra, who deliver a weekly box of fresh organic greens (9 or 10 different vegetables), a recipe book and healthy life tips to customers looking for a mix of continuity and surprise.• Last but not least, an organic-meets-convenience spotting: while hip, dedicated, hip sandwich stores are only now proliferating outside the UK, Organic To Go in Issaquah (Washington) and downtown Seattle is going down the NOUVEAU NICHE path by opening up first of their kind, pleasantly designed organic sandwich stores. Springwise can’t emphasize enough: story and focus count, on top of superior quality of course!


Everything that’s fringe, everything that is niche, will eventually become mainstream. In the business of fresh, organic produce, consider Whole Foods’ and FreshDirect’s success in metropolitan areas in the US, while the spottings above show how many other opportunities remain for everything that is real, authentic and pure, yet also convenient. No matter what industry you’re in, the consumer lessons to be learned here are the same. Oh, and if you’re a ‘Big Player’ in food & beverage, or retail, why not partner with some of these small but buzz-generating companies? If you can’t beat their imagination, join them! 😉


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