Once upon a time there was no agriculture. The first signs of agriculture appeared in the fertile Crescent within the Middle East. As people started cultivating land to produce food they settled down and shifted from a nomadic spartanic lifestyle to an affluent society. Suddenly there was more than enough food and people built silos to store the surplus of food. Demographic growth was the new norm. This was about 10'000 year ago. How did agriculture change ever since?
We are still cultivating land, in fact we cut down vast amounts of forest and are cultivating more land than ever before; 40 % of all ice-free land to feed about 8 billion people on this planet. We replaced ox for large machines, switched from small scale diverse agriculture to large scale monocultures and use millions of tons of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to ensure growth. We at YASAI think we have a systematic problem within the food industry.
YASAI is here to disrupt the current food system and enable people to grow more with less.
We contribute to a local circular food system with the focus on more biodiversity & taste with a smaller ecological foot print and zero pesticides or food miles. We are part of a movement that started in 2010 with the book: "Vertical Farms: How to feed the world in the 21st century" written by Dr. Dickson Despommier. After reading this book during his exchange semester in 2016 in Mexico-City, Co-Founder & CEO Mark E. Zahran travelled to New York to get to know the author.
From this point on the architecture student switched his focus from the urban towards the countryside. Mark created a master thesis at ETH Zurich with the question of "How to integrate Vertical Farming within the Swiss landscape?". The Answer: "By reusing and transforming mining landscapes we can create large scale Vertical Farms in Switzerland." The company LafargeHolcim supported a feasibility study and enabled the young Start-Up called YASAI to grow.
Step by step more dedicated people joined the team and contributed to the vision of YASAI. Today we are four co-founders with a very interdisciplinary & international background. Our common aim is to contribute to a circular urban food system by offering Vertical Farming as a Service based on a circular economy. We grow more with less for the health of people, plants & planet.
YASAI tackles 8 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals
& creates an impact
While we may not produce grains with our Vertical Farms, we may not entirely feed people just with these new indoor farms. Nevertheless we can decentralize agriculture and offer people a technology, which allows them to be more independent from the industrial centralised food supply chain.
INDUSTRY, INNOVATION & INFRASTRUCTURE:
We should think of food production as infrastructure, since every person on this planet shall have access to fresh water and healthy food. The Vertical Farming industry might complement the existing infrastructure and serve as a filter for the waste cities produce, such as CO2, wastewater, biowaste and waste spaces. At Yasai we aim to re-use waste as a resource to promote the growth of plants by integrating different innovative technologies
GOOD HEALTH & WELL BEING:
Yasai connects people with nature and brings nutrient rich food closer to where most people live. Because the food is produced hyperlocally it is at the same time very fresh. The time from harvest to table is reduced from days to a few minutes! The positive effect of plants towards people is beyond controversy. Plants improve our concentration, enhance our productivity and decrease stress levels. Biophilia is it called.
SUSTAINABLE CITIES & COMMUNITIES:
Urbanisation, more and more people tend to live within the urbanised mega cities all around the world. As we know today already more people live in such regions than on the countryside. By improving urban agriculture with Vertical Farming we want to transform these urban dwellings to more sustainable environments and enhance the resilience, such as the communities itself.
CLEAN WATER & SANITATION:
Since Vertical Farms work with a circular water system up to 80 % less water is used for irrigation. It depends whether we apply hydro- or aeroponic irrigation, technologies that were designed by NASA for space and now reach earth. Since agriculture requires 70% of all fresh water on earth, it is crucial that we start to grow our food with less water. In the future we might even use the nutrients of human waste.
RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION & PRODUCTION:
With a new business model called “Urban Farming as a Service” we empower our customers to decide what, when & how much to grow. At Yasai we sell the grow space and offer the service to grow the plants they need.
Like this we just produce what the people really demand and reduce biowaste to a minimum. Our customers can actively engage with the growth of their food via our digital platform and learn more about food diversity or how much resources they are saving by producing fresh food with Yasai.
By offering people know-how and expertise we want to emphasise climate action. Every single one can become a farmer with this technology; whether you are a company, a restaurant, a school or a social community. Each one, grow one is our basic approach. The only way we can do better than before is by educating people how to do better.
LIFE ON LAND:
By integration farming into the urban fabric we do no longer depend so much on the production in the countryside and may decrease stress on the soil. In a longterm we might even be able to regenerate former agricultural land to forests with a large biodiversity for other species. The best way to regenerate this land is by just leaving it. Nature always finds a way. Let's create urban healthy ecosystems, where people live and leave space for other species.