Every Monday and Thursday morning, a team of urban farmers go to a high-end restaurant in eastern Beijing. They deliver radish, wheatgrass, and bean sprouts seedlings and place them inside four glass cabinets. The cabinets are automated indoor farms with LED lighting, fresh water and nutrients. About 2 meters tall and have four tiers on which the vegetable seedlings grow, chefs at the hotel will harvest the vegetables from the cabinets throughout the week and the team will restock the cabinet twice a week. They will spot check if the cabinets are functioning properly.

The seedlings the team deliver are cultivated in a shipping container in central Beijing. The containers are indoor farms operated by Alesca Life, an agriculture start-up based in the same city. The company was co-founded in late 2013 by Stuart Oda with the ambition to make cities nutritionally self-sufficient.

The indoor farms provide everything the plants need to mature, but the seedlings need to be grown in shipping containers first. All the factors affecting the growth of the plants can be monitored and controlled by the company’s self-developed technologies, making the vegetables from unfavorable weather conditions, pollution, and pests.

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Jiefei Liu

Jiefei Liu is a Beijing based tech reporter. She focuses on the union of tech and content creation and loves agriculture. You can write to her at Jiefei@technode.com