Urban Cultivator’s sleek design is guaranteed to turn a few heads, but the true beauty is on the inside – an indoor vertical farm that ensures only the optimal growing conditions. This results in the freshest, most aromatic greens to elevate a dish in an easy-to-use, fertiliser-free way.
FOUR wanted to know more, so we asked the Urban Cultivator’s CEO, Ewout Goldberg, to elaborate…
Would you tell us more about how the Urban Cultivator came about?
15 years ago, we started researching the nutritional benefits of consuming fresh greens over traditional store-bought ones. We realised then that the advantages to your health constituted a significant improvement if you could only minimise the time it took to get vegetables and herbs from farm to plate. For city dwellers, this challenge is real, and so, naturally, the vertical farming trend has been soaring non-stop ever since.
We were the lucky few who got in early, with ample time to establish a strong product and perfect the technology encased within every new generation of Cultivator. For the body, this meant analysing ways to grow tasty ingredients that help fight fatigue, reduce allergies and lower cholesterol. For the environment and creating a more sustainable world, we are proud to have a positive impact by decreasing CO2 emissions usually required for transporting greens from farm to store, as well as taking away the need for fertilisers in our all-organic, pocket greenhouses.
Since the beginning, we’ve come a long way and gone global, catering to tech powerhouses like Microsoft and Google, high-end hotel chains such as the Four Seasons and Sheraton Hotels, and even Arsenal! Martha Stewart and Arlene Dickinson have actively endorsed our brand, and a successful appearance on Dragon’s Den pushed us to reach even greater heights. As of this year, supermarkets have started adopting our in-store farms as a way of selling greens grown and harvested directly on-site. ‘Farm-to-Aisle,’ if you will.
What drives your brand to keep developing as it has? Any purpose you value above all else?
The versatility of the Urban Cultivator knows no bounds – it has been adapted for use in luxury homes as well as businesses, restaurants and stores. Our no-frills formula and well-thought-out esthetic and technological design have put us on the map, competing against only a few major market players. We are the leader when it comes to fully automated growing appliances. Many startups have tried to follow in our footsteps, and we encourage the spirit, but despite having a working model and fancy website, they rarely pass the prototype stage to reach full production.
What drives us most is our fervent ambition to provide fresh, sustainable greens to as many and in as many ways as possible. It’s hard to say whether we prioritise the health of the people or that of their surrounding environment, so we deem our tagline “It’s a Fresh New World,” which signifies both of these facets.
Can you explain the inner workings of an Urban Cultivator?
Of course. Our patented hydroponics system uses the latest in farming technology to optimise the growing cycle of the plants in the way nature intended. The Cultivator is fitted with a program that automatically controls the light, the fan and the watering. This creates the perfect, natural conditions needed to produce nutritious greens without lifting a finger.
We provide ongoing support during installation and use, though it shouldn’t take long to figure out that the only thing you have to do is watch the seeds turn into delicious micro-vegetables or herbs. All a Cultivator needs is a water supply and electric power before it’s ready to grow. The built-in programming ensures the plants get just the right doses of air circulating inside to stay happy and you can choose between several feeding schedules, where water is gradually ‘flooding’ the trays, depending on what you wish to grow.
There are 2 types of Cultivator on the market. What are they?
Our products are intended to cater to multiple kitchen sizes. The smaller one is easily built into a home kitchen or business cafeteria; the larger one will feed a bigger crowd in sizable spaces such as restaurants and supermarkets.
The Urban Cultivator Residential, built-in like you would with an integrated wine cooler, is a fantastic addition to any small-scale foodie’s kitchen repertoire. You can pick out any mix of microgreens and herbs and never run out, 365 days a year, whatever the season. You can cook with or garnish a meal with the freshly picked produce which packs up to 9 times the nutrients you would normally have access to, and it’s 100% organic. The design enhances a kitchen’s charm, especially once you have beautifully grown greens glowing inside, waiting for their time to be added to the plate.
The Urban Cultivator Commercial is the Residential’s professional older sibling, used to attain culinary perfection in a restaurant or to sell the freshest greens from a store as soon as they are harvested. Cities, in particular, are where vertical farms currently thrive due to a lack of locally grown, fresh produce. The Commercial eliminates this problem, reducing the time spent ordering greens and waiting for them to arrive. Not to mention the difference in quality and the health benefits when the actual farm is ten feet away.