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Agricool is transforming containers so you can grow food where you live – even the city centre!

4 min read

Better Society
Agricool is transforming containers so you can grow food where you live – even the city centre!
Source: BrightVibes

Growing pesticide-free, non-GMO fruit and vegetables in shipping containers in the heart of the city, for a fraction of the usual resources.

Agricool: they grow food where you live

Whether it’s beans from New Zealand, strawberries from Spain, or tomatoes from Morocco, fruits and vegetables travel more than you. But unlike you, they don’t enjoy it. It means pesticides inside and pollution outside. Agricool aims to be super-local, even in urban centres, and provide fresh, healthy produce using minimal resources and renewable energy. What’s not to love?

This French startup had humble beginnings: The first Cooltainer was created on a family farm in 2015 to enable cities to locally produce fresh produce year-round. Source: Facebook/BrightVibes

Hello from the founders!

“As we’re both sons of farmers, our childhoods were full of excellent fruits and vegetables. When we moved to the city, we didn’t want to lose the ability to eat great food. That’s why we invented a system that lets us grow tasty fruits and vegetables locally and without pesticides, at a price that everyone can afford.”  — Gonzague & Guillaume

The farmers' sons invented a system that lets them grow tasty fruits and vegetables locally and without pesticides, at a price that everyone can afford.
Founders Gonzague & Guillaume The farmers’ sons invented a system that lets them grow tasty fruits and vegetables locally and without pesticides, at a price that everyone can afford. Source: Agricool.co

The whole story

Time to cobble something together

Their taste buds started celebrating as they planted strawberries in an apartment belonging to Gonzague’s uncle. Doubling as the children’s playroom, the growing room was pretty basic, but it worked!

First strawberries were amazing!

They managed to grow strawberries, and they were good. It was an encouraging first step. Now they needed to find their own place to play.

Hunting for the right Lego

At that time, there was an old container sitting in the courtyard of Gonzague’s parents’ farm. And it struck them as the ideal solution. It was like a Lego: recyclable, transportable, and able to be placed anywhere! It was time to turn those 33 m2 into a fruit and vegetable paradise.

Source & Images: Agricool

there was an old container sitting in the courtyard of Gonzague’s parents’ farm. And it struck them as the ideal solution. It was like a Lego: recyclable, transportable, and able to be placed anywhere! It was time to turn those 33 m2 into a fruit and vegetable paradise.
Hunting for the right Lego… there was an old container sitting in the courtyard of Gonzague’s parents’ farm. And it struck them as the ideal solution. It was like a Lego: recyclable, transportable, and able to be placed anywhere! It was time to turn those 33 m2 into a fruit and vegetable paradise. Source: Agricool

Growing in a container, really?

See? It’s possible

They worked day and night for a few months. Eventually, they had created their paradise for fruits and vegetables. It was time to present their solution to the world.

Goodbye Localocal, hello Agricool

Before the big reveal, they needed a fresh look. At first, they had decided to call themselves Localocal. Why? They thought it was simple, clear, efficient and international. But really it was impossible to spell and nobody got it. With the help of The Family, they created a new identity. It was the beginning of Agricool.

First site in Paris

Their prototype took to the highway with hundreds of strawberries on board, headed for its new home at the Parc de Bercy. Once there, production really started. They were producing 1 carton of strawberries each day. It wasn’t much, but it was a start and the taste was incredible!

Source: Agricool

headed for its new home at the Parc de Bercy where production really started. They were producing 1 carton of strawberries each day. It wasn’t much, but it was a start and the taste was incredible!
The prototype takes to the highway with hundreds of strawberries on board… headed for its new home at the Parc de Bercy where production really started. They were producing 1 carton of strawberries each day. It wasn’t much, but it was a start and the taste was incredible! Source: Agricool

The idea proved popular with the media and fundraising alike

Let’s meet with the media

The media started showing up, and they had over 1000 visits in just 3 months. They had won their first bet: proving that it was possible to produce tasty food in a Cooltainer. Initial fundraising proved to be very successful.

Time to speed up

A first round of money allowed them to hire their engineering and agronomy leaders. At the time, there were 4 of them: Gonzague, Guillaume, Guillaume and…Guillaume. So they re-baptized their new recruits (pleased to meet you, George and Will) and everything started moving faster.

The new workplace

After a few months in the family basement, they moved to their own offices in Paris’s 20th arrondissement. There they pushed their tests further: density, species, humidity, temperature, light…

The fundraising

They raised about 4 million euros, and moved into their 1500 m2 factory (below) in the Parisian suburb of La Courneuve, with a now full-sized team of talents.

Source: Agricool

and moved into their 1500 m2 factory in the Parisian suburb of La Courneuve, with a now full-sized team of talents.
They soon outgrew the family basement and moved into their 1500 m2 factory in the Parisian suburb of La Courneuve, with a now full-sized team of talents. Source: Agricool

What does the future hold?

One team, one mission

Their mission is ambitious. To complete it, they need the best, those who are able to reinvent agronomy and engineering as we know it. Those who can challenge the status quo, reinventing the system of food production. They received more than 700 applications, and went from two founders to a team of 30 in just one year.

Research & development

After two years of R&D, they managed to invent a new way of growing food. They are now able to be 120 times more productive, without pesticides or GMOs, while using 90% less water and nutrients, and consuming only renewable energy. Most importantly, it’s a method that brings taste back to the food, produced 100% locally.

An optimistic future?

Today they grow incredible strawberries in the center of Paris. Tomorrow, they say they’ll be producing all kinds of fruits and vegetables in large cities all over the world. That’s a vision we can all get behind.

Source: Agricool

The main reason why Agricool strawberries are cheaper is because you don’t have to pay middlepersons. There’s no importing company, transportation company, central purchasing, supermarket, etc. Agricool grows strawberries where end customers are going to buy them.
Agricool grows strawberries where end customers are going to buy them The main reason why Agricool strawberries are cheaper is because you don’t have to pay middlepersons. There’s no importing company, transportation company, central purchasing, supermarket, etc. Agricool grows strawberries where end customers are going to buy them. Source: Facebook/Agricool
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