“What should the world look like after the pandemic?” That was the central question asked in an online consultation launched by the WWF, the Red Cross and other organisations from April 10th to May 25th 2020. Over a month, 165’000 people participated on the platform, making 20’000 suggestions and gathering 1.7 million votes. Of all the ideas, one topic stands out very clearly as a priority for most participants: improving our food and agricultural system.
Over the past thirty years, consumers have been increasingly disconnected from their food, with products coming from all over the world, transformed, packaged and processed. This system has become a nonsense, as agriculture is responsible for one quarter of global carbon emissions*, one third of all food produced is thrown away* and about 815 million people are still hungry around the world*.
Producing food locally could be part of the solution to build a more sustainable food system. French company Myfood has developed the first solar and connected aquaponic greenhouse for private individuals. The solution combines permaculture and aquaponics to achieve high production efficiency, allowing consumers to grow ultra-fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round.
How does it work? The greenhouse uses fish to grow food: their excrements are used as fertilizer, the plants are watered with water from the basin, which is filtered by the roots of the plants. Vegetables grow on large white towers in the greenhouse, which considerably increases the amount of food grown per square meter (approx. eight times more than in a field). The solar panels provide energy. Multiple Sensors and a camera constantly monitor the culture, its temperature and humidity.
The company, which aims at reconnecting consumers to their food, has already installed 280 greenhouses globally, producing a total of over 2000kg of food every month. More than developing a technology, Myfood is building a community of individuals (the “pioneers”) who have taken a first step to change the way we produce food. An online platform allows the pioneers to share their stories and tips to grow vegetables and receive recommendations from Myfood agronomists.
This solution was awarded the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label for its clear positive impact on the environment, as growing food directly in your garden saves on transportation, water, and packaging, but also for its economic aspect. A 22m2 greenhouse produces 400 kilograms of food per year, which is enough to feed a family of four. The payback period is from 5 to 6 years, but once reached, the system produces an equivalent of 2’000EUR of food per year.