What is your mission?
Our mission is to grow tasty and pesticide free fruits and vegetables for everyone.
What is at the heart of your business?
Our solution involves transforming shipping containers into a veritable paradise for fruits and vegetables, including the best lighting, air, irrigation system, etc. That’s how we can be 120 times more productive than a field, without pesticides, while consuming 90% less water and only using renewable energy. We’re starting with strawberries and will soon be growing all different types of fruits and vegetables. The result is excellent strawberries, harvested that day, just down the street from you.
Can we visit?
After a year of intense research and development, our first strawberries are ready to head out the doors. Thus we’ll soon be able to start organizing visits to let you discover Agricool, our office and how we work. If you’re interested, send us a message: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re excited to meet you!
How long will you be in the Parc de Bercy?
The Bercy Cooltainer is a significant part of our history. It was our first introduction to the public, and we’re happy to have had the opportunity in such a noted location – all of our thanks to the city of Paris and the mayor’s office. At the moment, we foresee staying there through the end of 2018.
Are your strawberries good?
That’s the whole goal of our project: we want to rediscover the lost flavor of fruits and vegetables. That’s why we developed the best possible environment that would let the best strawberries grow right down the road from our homes. So yes, we do everything possible to ensure that we’re growing exceptional strawberries. And we’re eager to hear your opinion!
What types of strawberry do you grow?
During our year of R&D we performed most of our tests with the Darselect. We also regularly test other varieties in our quest to find the best possible taste.
Do I need to wash the fruit before eating it?
Generally, that’s a good habit to have. Most fruits and vegetables that we buy were at some point treated with pesticides. But for Agricool strawberries, there’s no need to wash them, as they’ve never even heard the word “pesticide”.
Are you going to produce other fruits and vegetables?
The strawberry is one of the favorite fruits in France, but it’s also one of the most complicated to grow. It was a big challenge that we wanted to face in order to give our customers the tastiest food experience. Now that we’ve finished all of these tests, we’re going to be able to target other types of fruits and vegetables. In fact, we’ve already started testing on tomatoes and lettuce, so stay tuned!
Are your strawberries organic?
In order to be termed “organic”, the produce must be grown using soil – and that’s not how we grow (and we don’t have any reason to use soil with our system). What’s more, using soil would mean that we would need trucks filled with soil going back and forth with each harvest, whereas our recycled plastic substrate can go through multiple harvests without any problems. But all of that doesn’t change the fact that our strawberries are excellent and grown without any pesticides!
What about the seasons?
Let us tell a quick story. One day we asked a strawberry farmer about the season for strawberries. He told us that the season was from March to October. We then asked about the strawberry season when his father was growing, and he told us it was from May to June. We then asked if, in another 10 years, the season would be from January to December. Essentially, what are the seasons? For us, the most important thing is to produce in ways that respect the planet and that give excellent and healthy fruits and vegetables without any pesticides. So Agricool is always in season, all year long 😉
Are your Cooltainers totally controlled?
Totally and perfectly! Thanks to our technology, our fruits and vegetables are completely protected, growing in a 100% healthy environment. We check throughout the process that everything is up to our norms and secured. We also conduct regular tests to verify the quality of our produce and the status of our cooltainers.
How do you distribute your strawberries?
We’re working to find the best possible way to distribute our produce. Our goal is to reduce transportation to a minimum and maintain the local link between cooltivators and consumers. As such, we’ll favor the shortest possible distribution networks.
Can we buy fruits and vegetables directly from a Cooltivator?
We want to create strong links between consumers and producers. It will thus likely be possible to buy directly from the Cooltivator located closest to you. Nonetheless, every location is different and there are different local rules, so we can’t guarantee anything in advance.
Will we be able to find you in the supermarket?
We want to create strong links between consumers and producers. It will thus likely be possible to buy directly from the cooltivator located closest to you. Nonetheless, every location is different and there are different local rules, so we can’t guarantee anything in advance.
How much do your products cost?
Our mission is to create a sustainable food system, cultivating excellent fruits and vegetables without pesticides and making them available to all. Today we are a team of 30, and because we’re still at the beginning we’re producing relatively few strawberries. But we’ve established a price as low as possible considering that we’re still in launch phase. As the number of cooltainers grows, they’ll cost less and less to produce, and so the price of our strawberries will go down.
How does Agricool’s business model work?
Agricool is an innovative project. We’re investing lots of time and money in developing our technologies and guaranteeing that our project is revolutionary. In order to access those technologies, we need to have others contribute. Essentially our cooltivators buy the cooltainers, and we offer them financing possibilities. There will also be a percentage of sales that comes back to Agricool. This will pay for the agronomy upkeep for the cooltainers as well as further research to keep improving our product and producing different types of fruits and vegetables.
What do you do for local farmers?
Agricool is a solution that complements the work of local farmers. We’re creating new jobs in the agricultural sector, which has lost many jobs over the past several decades. We know the difficulties farmers face every day, and we’re happy to be looking for new solutions. So yes, we’ll be replacing industrial fruits and vegetables that come from too far away. But we’ll never replace local farmers who are trying to produce quality fruits and vegetables.
Is it easy to become a Cooltivator?
Nothing could be easier – no need for a degree in strawberry tasting. You just need to be passionate about fruits and vegetables, motivated, and enjoy eating. After that we’ll provide a few weeks of training to make sure you can manage the Cooltainers like a pro.
How many Cooltainers does it take to have a good salary?
Everyone is free to choose what works best for them. But our calculations suggest that 3 Cooltainers is the ideal solution for a full-time job.
Do I need any technical skills to become a Cooltivator?
There’s no need for any particular background – that’s the great thing about our project. We’ve done everything possible to make our product accessible and open to anyone who wants to become a cooltivator. The Cooltainers are entirely optimized and connected. Cooltivators can manage the entire production process and be sure that everything’s working perfectly. Then it’s just a question of harvesting and distribution. And even then we’re there to help the Cooltivators as much as possible.
If I want to be a Cooltivator, do I need to find a location for the Cooltainer and a distribution network?
Our goal is to aid our Cooltivators as much as possible. That’s why we’ve created optimized Cooltainers and why we’re working to find locations for them alongside distribution networks. But if you have any ideas, do let us know!
How much does it cost to become a cooltivator?
We want for the cooltivator job to be open to everyone. We’ve put in place a leasing system that facilitates access to our innovative technology. Don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com for more information.
Do you have training available to become a cooltivator?
We’re working on a training program to help our future cooltivators. The exact length of the program hasn’t yet been decided, but we’ll get back to you with more information.
How do I get all of the things needed to grow plants?
We deliver everything, all ready to go. If you need additional materials or something needs to be replaced, we’ll have a shop where you can order products from our suppliers.
Are your strawberries as good as those grown in a field?
To have quality fruits and vegetables, you need three things: a variety with flavor, perfectly controlled growing conditions, and harvesting at maturity. We’ve put all 3 of these aspects together.
How are the plants fed?
They’re irrigated thanks to a closed circuit that carries water and nutrients (mineral salts). The closed circuit lets us precisely control these nutrients. There’s no need for drainage as everything is consumed by the plant (with no soil pollution) and we’ve reduced nutrient use by 90%.
And what about the sun?
We have LEDs that let us create the ideal spectrum of light for the plant’s development.
How does pollination work in the Cooltainer?
We have beehives that do a great job in our Cooltainers. That’s how we can guarantee successful pollination of our plants.
What kind of nutrients do you use?
We use a wide variety of nutrients, each providing individual elements.
Do you use fertilizer?
A plant can’t grow without fertilizer, as it is one of the principal dry materials that make the plant function. So we use a wide variety of fertilizers (potassium nitrate, magnesium nitrate, monopotassium phosphate, ammonium nitrate, potassium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, calcium nitrate). We work with a closed irrigation system, so no nutrients are lost – everything is consumed by the plant.
Do you perform quality testing to see if there are any traces of chemicals?
Our goal is to produce excellent fruits and vegetables. To do that, we perform numerous tests throughout the production process to make sure that everything’s going as it should.
Can we know where all of the nutrients come from?
Yes. We’re now completing our agronomy tests, which means that it still varies a great deal. But as soon as that’s done, we’ll have a complete carbon study performed that will include the provenance of all nutrients.
Why did you choose to work with old shipping containers?
That’s where the whole Agricool story starts. When we began thinking about this project, there was an old container sitting around on Gonzague’s parents’ farm. We thought it would be great for carrying out our tests, and quickly realized that it was perfect for growing the fruits and vegetables of tomorrow. It’s a standard format that lets us take advantage of scale and is optimal for being transported throughout the world. It’s also a good thing for the environment, as we’re reusing old shipping containers.
What kind of power source do the Cooltainers need?
Our Cooltainers simply need to be connected to existing water and electricity supplies. We’ll be sending out more information very soon.
What kind of innovations are you working on?
Technology was long a friend of agriculture. Today we’ve decided to go even further, using it to master the entire growing process. Our cooltainers are 100% connected and can analyze all data in real time. We’ve created the first urban farm that is able to manage itself.
Can you control everything at a distance?
Our goal is to facilitate the cooltivators’ work as much as possible. That’s why we’ve developed technology that optimizes all of the functions within the Cooltainer. And that’s how things can be managed from a distance, from air quality to lighting.
Why LED lighting?
We chose LED lighting because they’re the best adapted for our model for several reasons. They are extremely precise, giving us total control over their spectrum and intensity. They consume very little energy when we look at the ratio of electricity consumed vs. light produced. And they put off very little heat.
How much can you grow?
We’ve developed a veritable paradise for fruits and vegetables. This allows us to have a much greater density of plants. We’re also able to have growing cycles throughout the year and to optimize the plants’ production. We’re able to produce, in 30 sq. meters, the equivalent of what traditional agriculture produces in 4000 sq. meters of fields
Could we one day see Cooltainers that don’t need electricity?
Anything is possible. For the moment, we’re concentrating on the actual production of fruit, since in order to succeed one must focus. But we’re keeping an eye on new technologies and solutions that we could implement. For example, we’re thinking about how to implement solar panels, but that will be a question that we take up in due time.
Is aeroponic growing a good thing?
The problem today is that strawberries can’t keep being grown in fields, as we’re currently losing 26 sq. meters of farmland every second in France. At the same time, our population is increasing. That’s why 75% of our strawberries today are imported, largely from Spain and Morocco. We want to be a complementary solution to organic farming in fields, so that everyone can eat tasty fruits and vegetables grown without pesticides. We use a aeroponic system since it lets us optimize water and nutrient consumption and eliminates the need for pesticides.
Why not use soil?
We use very little surface area to produce our fruits and vegetables – 120 times less than in a field, to be exact. And that’s land that can be used to replace forests and let the soil breathe without overworking it. What’s more, working with soil would have meant making trips between the city and the countryside with trucks, which isn’t great, ecologically speaking. Overall, soil is a precious resource, and we’re glad to be doing our part to protect it.
How do you reduce water consumption?
We have a closed system and we reuse the humidity found in the air so that nothing is lost. No evaporation, no water lost into the soil – everything goes into the strawberries! 🙂
How are you planning on powering the cooltainers?
Since the beginning, we’ve made the choice to use only clean energy.
Do you use chemicals?
We don’t use pesticides. The cooltainer is a closed environment, protected from the outside. We use synthetically-produced nutrients to feed the plants, but thanks to our closed circuit system we use 90% less than traditional farming and no nutrients are lost to the soil.
Do you use GMOs?
Our fruits and vegetables are guaranteed to be 100% GMO-free.
How do you avoid transporting the fruits and vegetables?
Our cooltainers are located as closely as possible to the consumer, ideally within cities. That’s how we eliminate the average of 1500 km travelled by fruits and vegetables today. Depending on the space available, we can also produce in the area directly around a city, but we don’t want to be more than 20 km from our consumer.