Israeli firm Vertical Field to open vertical farms in Russia, Ukraine

The first of these farms opened earlier this month in Krasnodar and Dnipro, and already they are starting to provide steady harvests of fresh produce to sell at Russia's Magnit and Ukraine's Varus.

The inside of a Vertical Field-run vertical farm unit is seen. (photo credit: DJC.COM.UA)
The inside of a Vertical Field-run vertical farm unit is seen.
(photo credit: DJC.COM.UA)

Israeli agritech firm Vertical Field, known for its innovative vertical farming technology, is partnering with major retailers in Russia and Ukraine to set up vertical farms at their branches.

The first of these farms opened earlier this month in Krasnodar and Dnipro, and already they are starting to provide steady harvests of fresh produce to sell at the retailers.

They will soon expand to other branches of the Russian retail chain Magnit and the Ukrainian chain Varus.

These vertical, sustainable farms were developed by the Ra'anana-based company owned by Michael Mirilashvili, through the use of geoponic technology, agricultural expertise and smart design. This is especially useful in "urban food deserts," which are usually lacking in available space for crop cultivation.

The vertical farms bypass this limitation by creating vertical growing platforms to essentially farm produce on walls. These greenhouse crop-fields are portable, and are around the size of shipping containers, ranging from 20 feet to 40 feet long, which can fit right in a parking lot, allowing supermarkets and groceries to grow and sell their own home-grown produce right outside the door.

A Vertical Field-run vertical farm unit is seen in the Ukraine. (credit: DJC.COM.UA)A Vertical Field-run vertical farm unit is seen in the Ukraine. (credit: DJC.COM.UA)

The farms come with a number of other advantages over traditional farming. Its container-like nature provides a controlled growing environment, ensuring more sterility and keeping it safe from bugs and therefore not avoiding the need for pesticides. It also allows for automated crop management, which limits human contact and allows for consistent quality.

Furthermore, it also produces less waste, as well as a 90% decrease in the amount of water needed.

But perhaps most importantly, it isn't limited by traditional seasons for produce, with all crops being "in season" year-round, having shorter overall growing cycles and longer shelf lives.

And, by growing produce locally, it also reduces waste in the supply chain.

“Produce will reach the shelf in a matter of minutes, immediately after being harvested from the vertical farm, and customers will clearly see where the greens came from,” Magnit in-house production director Vyacheslav Krasnoyarov said in a statement.

“This technology is environmentally friendly, optimizes processes, and improves product quality.”

“We already have portable vertical farms that grow crops on 4 walls at various locations throughout the world,” project leader Menni Bushuev said.

“In Russia, we are integrating a nursery, as well, where seedlings will be grown for about 10 days before they are transferred to our modular growing pods. Plants are grown vertically in optimally controlled conditions with sensors that monitor, detect, and allocate data-based inputs such as: irrigation, lighting, fertilizer, and climate-control. After approximately three weeks, produce is ready for harvest and sale. The vertical farm has been designed to comfortably sit right on-site, adjacent to supermarkets, restaurants, institutions, city centers, hotels, educational institutions and more. We have already developed protocols for growing 50 varieties of leady greens and herbs, 6 varieties of mushrooms, and now the protocol of everyone's favorite fruit - strawberries - is on the way.”

Over the past two years, the company has signed new deals all over the world.

In November 2020, Vertical Field began working with Israeli supermarket chain Rami Levy, opening up a vertical farm in their Bnei Brak store.

In January 2021, it signed an agreement with Emirates Smart Solutions & Technologies (ESST), an agricultural developer in the Persian Gulf, to deploy its proprietary vertical farms in the United Arab Emirates.

In May 2021, the company signed a deal with Carlson Management to supply assisted-living homes in California with on-site vertical farming units, starting with a demo unit at the Glen Cove senior living lodge in Vallejo.

Idan Zonshine and Aaron Reich contributed to this report.