Growing Microgreens Indoors: The Advanced Guide (2023 Edition)

“If urbanvine.co had existed when I got into Vertical Farming back in 2012, I'd have saved 3 years in that quest to learn it!”

Mark-Horler
- Zjef Van Acker, Former Chief Engagement Officer, Association for Vertical Farming (AVF) 

Greatit Italy

This article details Greatit, a Italy based container farm company. The interview is with Dr.Agr. Daniele Bertocchi, Founder and AD.

Credit: Greatit

What is the origin story of Greatit?

Daniele: Everything started after my graduation in 2017 (I am an agronomist), when I was working for a Farmers’ union. Working from an office, meeting farmers every day, I realised that wasn’t what I really wanted to do, that I wanted to be on the other side of the desk. So I started looking for a field of agriculture where I could start my own business and fully express my ideas.

My studies pushed me towards something more innovative instead of traditional agriculture. In the meantime, after many dead ends, I finally changed jobs opting for a company experimenting in the agronomic and phytosanitary field, where I was very often on the field around the farms of my region.

It was by pure chance that in 2019 I went to a particular farm in Offlaga, in the province of Brescia, which produced strawberries outside soil inside cold greenhouses; there was another small greenhouse where they were experimenting on microgreens, and I was asked to help the farmer in his experiment, so I spent a couple months assisting him.

During these months I came across many issues with the management of the environment (heating in winter, cooling in summer, dealing with pathogens…), and I started researching possible solutions.

The answer came in the form of a container present in the field: it was used for storage, but I proposed to move cultivation inside of it. I started looking for information, to learn if there were other similar projects in Italy and the rest of the world and I found some solutions, but at very high costs, and those solutions weren’t fully satisfying to me.

I needed to build my own project container, and for that I looked for industrial partners, which I found in Magli Intermodal Service and Sicom spa. It was 2020.

Unfortunately, that was right when Covid came and slowed our progress, because I could only work on my project from home, but could not actually build anything. Eventually, we managed to build our first prototype starting from January 2021, and Greatit srl was born, as an innovative startup, in May 2021, to fully evolve in the current Greatit in March 2022, when we officially entered the market with our container Demetra.

During this first phase, I grew microgreens and other products in our container, selling them on the local market, to evaluate the optimal capacity of the structure, and of course have a little economic return for myself. Since then we produced and sold 15 containers meant for different types of crops.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing Greatit in the future?

Daniele: First of all we want to manage to make our structure completely environmentally sustainable, which means making its consumption zero-impact by relying only on renewable sources of energy. Second, our container is already highly advanced, but we want to optimize it further to help its users even more.

What is unique about Greatit compared to competitors? How do you measure the impact of your company so far? (Revenue, Employees, Customer Quantity, Production Volume) etc?

Daniele: To me, what makes us different is the desire not to insert traditional agriculture inside a container, but to have something new, exploiting different advanced technologies derived also from the industrial world.

Our sensors and pumps, for example, are of the highest quality (industrial origin). This quality then allows us to be more competitive in terms of price.

Additionally, we have the potential to give new life to used containers still in good conditions thanks to our partner Sicom, always in the perspective of sustainability and circular economy.

Moreover, since we were the first users of the structure, we were able to recognise all its faults and gradually improve it before selling any container, this practical approach was fundamental. To us, it’s essential that only those who know how to do something teach it.

So far we went from zero to 1 million euros of revenue, so I would say our company is rapidly expanding. At present about 20 people work in different sectors.

What have you learned that you wish you knew when you joined or started the company?

Daniele: When I started I was basically a book full of blank pages, and my experiences definitely helped me fill those pages. What I would tell to past me is not to focus on a single thing but learn to be flexible, and not be afraid of failure, it’s all part of the learning process, proceed step by step always getting up when you fall.

How can people connect with you or learn more about Greatit?

Daniele: You can easily reach me through my email, info@greatit.it. We are also present online with our website, greatit.it, and on social networks such as Instagram, Youtube, Linkedin, and Tiktok.

“If urbanvine.co had existed when I got into Vertical Farming back in 2012, I'd have saved 3 years in that quest to learn it!”

Mark-Horler
- Zjef Van Acker, Former Chief Engagement Officer, Association for Vertical Farming (AVF) 

“Urban Vine sends out lovely and detailed information on the future of farming in their newsletter, I recommend joining!”

Hank
Hank van Apeldoorn, Urban Vine Co Subscriber

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