Farm to Hotel: Organic urban farming in hospitality
Agriculture Box Founder Arnaud Fabre tells Hotel & Catering News Middle East all about how organic urban farming systems will revolutionise the way we grow.
In a world where farm-to-table has become a catchphrase, hotels around the world are joining the movement with their own produce-rich gardens and farms. Chefs and F&B outlets are looking to find new ways to grow nutrient-rich, high-yield organic food, and this is what Agriculture Box offers with the latest urban farming growing technologies.
It’s not just happening at hotels located near leafy pastures and fertile fields. Urban properties by the biggest chains are getting into the act with gardens augmenting their kitchens’ shopping lists.
With new methods to promote organic farming, the business offers user-friendly, ergonomic and transportable solutions. Agriculture Box’s exclusive urban farming systems are made with premium materials such as European timber and dried Spruce wood from sustainable sources, certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
Using long-lasting materials, the offering is durable against the strong sun and humidity encountered during the summer months in arid environments. Agriculture Box’s systems are both waterproof and UV proof, and their soil and compost are carefully selected.
The company also provides its proprietary organic micro-algae fertiliser to support plant health, with most of their seeds coming from France. Their composting system, specifically designed for outside use, compliments products to allow for self-sufficiency.
Agriculture Box’s outdoor, food-graded, fiberglass anaerobic fermentation and aerobic decomposition system facilitates the production of rich compost in four weeks using a double system: controlled anaerobic fermentation with Effective Micro-Organism (EM) and a traditional decomposition.
What do you think of the Dubai market and why have you decided to venture into it?
The fact that 90% of the food we consume is imported and the relative lack of organic matter in the native soil creates an opportunity for turn-key integrated organic urban vegetable gardens.
Who are your main clients and why?
We started with schools. They use our systems not only for educational purposes, but also for the creation of their home-grown school organic markets.
Then, we began working with hotels. The advantages are tripled: a quick return on investment and the creation of gourmet home-grown menus. The urban farm is also a great marketing tool for the hotels to promote their green initiatives.
We also work with individuals, and now villa contractors.
What challenges have you faced so far and how have you found solutions?
The main challenges organic growers are facing here are the lack of organic matter and beneficial biology in soil. Our offer includes a compost system that will create this organic matter and inoculate beneficial biology.
Also, our systems thanks to their aeration and soil temperature reduction, promote that fragile biology.
What changes do you think the Expo 2020 will bring about in the market?
I think Expo 2020 will raise awareness on truly sustainable farming practices, focusing on organic matter and carbon-based waste recycling to produce compost. Then, it all becomes self-sustainable and we can grow the best chemical-free food money can buy in terms of nutrient content and taste.
A great local fresh food offer will enhance the tourism industry.
What’s in the pipeline for your company?
More hotels, schools and urban farming for villa compounds.
Tell us more about your role in promoting sustainability.
Our role is basically to make people understand that you don’t grow plants…you grow soil, which in turn will grow plants. By soil, we mean those beneficial microorganisms that can be inoculated through composting.
Let’s work with nature, not against it, and we will then access incredible yield and nutrient content across the board.