What if you could get your favorite herbs for Indian, Mexican or plain Swiss dishes right outside your city apartment? Or what if you could turn your apartment's balcony into a mini garden? These are just some of the needs Swiss start-up VEG and the City tries to fulfill.
The concept of harvesting stations placed across cities and towns seemed ingenious when Gudrun Ongania first told me about them. Shared gardens and vertical growing stations would help foster communities and re-establish a bond with vegetable production.
"We want to greenify urban concrete jungles and show city dwellers that anyone can grow a head of lettuce on their balcony." Two years later, Gudrun's start-up has successfully completed a pilot project at The HUB in Zürich.
For those future balcony gardeners, VEG and the City offers a number of workshops: Choose from basic to advanced urban gardening!
"Sometimes, even a used Tetra container or peanut bag will do. But most important is the location of the container: Is there enough sun exposure for tomatoes or peppers? Mint, on the other hand, will even grow if there is some shade," Gudrun elaborates.
VEG and the City in Zürich
When I asked Gudrun, the owner and manager of VEG and the City, what she is most proud of on opening day, she replied: "That we were able to pull off the store from concept to opening in less than three months!"
Then again, the tight timeline and dedicated approach does not surprise me. It was only in April 2012 that Gudrun launched her start-up...
An aggressive growth plan, by any means!
The brand new store at Zürich's up-and-coming Europaallee shopping district is a fit. From the moment you step in to VEG, you are in another world.
In the center of the room, there is a large workspace similar to what you may remember seeing in a flower shop. I really like this layout because it places emphasis on the "doing" part - as in anyone can practice urban gardening, and they can learn it right here.
The store's lighting is most creative as well, with original lamp shades made of terra cotta flower pots! Finally, I took note of those futuristic looking containers devised for urban vegetable growing... How fun!
The first ever VEG and the City retail shop is an experience in itself. I could imagine one or the other curious student, business person or retiree exploring the many ways strawberries or heads of lettuce can be planted...
I was very impressed by the Paper Potter, a simple tool to turn old newspaper and some soil into perfect little seedling pots: