Nuuk-entrepreneurs are growing vegetables in a warehouse:
“We want to make Greenland self-sufficient”. The company Greenlandic Greenhouse is on a mission: They want to supply greenlanders with fresh sustainable produce all year-round.
“We got the idea because vegetables were often unavailable in Nuuk supermarkets. We also found that salad and herbs had often gone bad,” says Rasmus Jakobsen.
In 2019, Jakobsen and his friend Charlie Brandt started Greenlandic Greenhouse. The company produces pesticide-free salad and herbs in a large warehouse in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk.They employ the vertical farming method: vegetables are grown on shelves with no soil or sunlight, instead using only LED-lighting and a little water.
According to Jakobsen, the vegetables grown at Greenlandic Greenhouse are better for the environment than imported vegetables, while being competitive when it comes to price. Every year Greenland imports around 3,600 tons of vegetables. It is expensive and, not least, damaging to the environment.
“We saw great potential in starting our own production. Around 85% of Nuuk’s electricity comes from renewable energy produced at our local hydro power plant. Therefore, producing vegetables locally in Greenland will leave a smaller CO2 footprint than having them shipped all the way.”
Reducing food waste
One of the big drawbacks of imported produce in Greenland is not knowing what is available in the supermarket from day to day,” Rasmus Jakobsen states.
“Security of supply in Greenland is bad. Containers often arrive too early – other times too late. That is, sometimes we have twice as many vegetables as we need. At other times, shelves in the supermarkets are empty.”
Research conducted by Rockwool Foundation shows that up to two thirds of Greenland’s imported vegetables and herbs are discarded because they have spoiled during shipping. And this is exactly the issue Greenlandic Greenhouse wants to solve.
“After harvesting, it takes only half an hour before the produce is delivered to our customers. We are able to deliver the produce exactly when our customers need it. It reduces the waste of supermarkets and customers to an absolute minimum,” says Rasmus Jakobsen.
Jakobsen and his team grow greens all year round in their large warehouse in Nuuk.
“We have a pretty stable climate in summer as well as in winther due to venting – how much air we let into the production hall. Basically it means we are able to produce and deliver consistently week after week, all year round.”
A ton of salad
When Greenlandic Greenhouse set up shop, they chose to expand incrementally.
“Our production system was installed one square metre at the time, and we gradually built our customer base along the way. In the beginning not many people believed in our project,” Jakobsen remembers.
Today he has proved that vertical farming has great potential. Greenlandic Greenhouse delivers produce to private consumers, companies, and a large number of Nuuks restaurants and canteens.
“We are producing around one ton of salad each month. Also we are growing a wide range of herbs such as parsley, dill, coriander, green & red basil and fennel.”
It is not only the inhabitants of Nuuk that deserve the pleasure of enjoying fresh produce. The team behind Greenlandic Greenhouse are planning to expand throughout Greenland.
“We are expanding all the time. We started out with 30 square metres. Today we have 600. We want to make Greenland self-sufficient and we are ready to move to other greenlandic cities,” says Rasmus Jakobsen.
In 2021 Greenlandic Greenhouse was nominated for the Nordic Council Environment Prize.