It’s actually a lot more simple than it sounds. The starting point is Aquaponics: we have several huge tanks which we use to store the catfish and we use their excrement to feed the plants. This means that there is less resource input and no waste whatsoever. The whole process is done without using any pesticides or antibiotics for the fish, we don’t even have to clean the water as the plants and creatures take care of that.
At TopFarmers, we’ve taken Aquaponics that one step further by creating AquaTerraPonics. Which is different because it involves taking care of the soil too. We’ve done this by creating an active natural habitat, adding bugs and worms to the soil; this has brought us much closer to nature than other hydroponic farms.
We also produce a wide range of vegetables. I must admit because of the nutrients we get from the fish we cannot grow everything, things such as potatoes for example, we cannot grow. However that's ironic because our sweet potatoes are doing really well at the moment. Aside from that, we’re also growing tomatoes, eggplant, micro greens, spinach, herbs, chiles, and even bananas from time-to-time! Furthermore, we have a greenhouse laboratory where we conduct research. Throughout the year we try to grow different things, right now we’re trying water spinach. Being able to produce a wide range of vegetables is something we’re very proud of.
"We’re also growing tomatoes, eggplant, micro greens, spinach, herbs, chiles, and even bananas from time-to-time!"
We’ve just received funding to construct a 2500 square meter greenhouse in Berlin. When complete, it will be one of the biggest AquaTerraPonic farms in the Berlin area. We're aiming to produce around 50 tonnes of fish and 30 tonnes of vegetables, that seems a lot at first, but it’s actually only 0.05% of what Berliners eat.
In the long run, we’d like to run 10 greenhouses of this size simultaneously. The idea is to spread them out across the city to ensure that everyone is getting the freshest food possible. In addition, we want to be able to deliver our produce using cyclists, similar to Deliveroo however with fresh, organic food.
We’re super happy to be on betahaus' cafe menu, and to have a fantastic chef like Sven enjoying our fish! In terms of other restaurants, we’re in Candy on Bone in Kreuzberg and the Arminiusmarkthalle in Moabit. Actually, Candy on Bone are doing some really experimental things with our fish at the moment, they serve it raw with lemon and it tastes amazing. Whereas, those in Arminiusmarkthalle are doing the total opposite, they’re serving our catfish in the traditional style of British fish and chips, right now they’re selling more than we can deliver!
"Candy on Bone are doing some really experimental things with our fish at the moment, they serve it raw with lemon and it tastes amazing."
At the moment we have a construction plan for schools so teachers can educate children about where their food can be produced in the future. I think it’s important to increase the awareness of the younger generation, even if you do start small. You could use goldfish for example and collect their waste to grow the plants, people must remember though that the fish are animals meaning that they will need fed regularly.
We love rooftops, hence the name ‘Top’ Farmers. Rooftops are a wasted space and with the right setup they can become extremely resource efficient. We can assist you with rooftop development in many different ways. We can design the whole thing, then hand it over to you, the customer. Or you can run it and we can provide ongoing support, or, you could finance the whole thing and we can run it. Either way we will continue to assist you throughout. You could even run it completely on your own and sell your produce through our distribution channels, we’re open to anything!
We don’t have a set framework so our workshops can be client specific. Normally, big corporates ask us to educate them about the environment and to show them how to be sustainable. It doesn’t have to be just corporates though, in the past we’ve ran them in schools too. Say we were to do one here in betahaus, we could demonstrate how to construct a tank and teach people how to use Aquaponics at home.
If you’d like to see TopFarmer's urban farm, they offer monthly tours where you can witness and experience how AquaTerraPonics works.
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Toni: Honestly, we have skillsets that you don’t usually find in developers. Because we've had lives that were not just about computer science. I think to some extent this is what makes us different.
Martin: I believe one of the reasons why people pick us over other studios is because it can be very hard working with developers. If you’re not understanding their work, if the communication is not flowing, you, as a client can feel lost. We're easy to communicate with and we’re always open to feedback and we're open to discuss anything. In the end, after all iterations, if you say we need to start the website from scratch and that you don’t like the idea, we won’t take it personally.
Alex: Also, I think, since we all work as coding teachers, we are officially qualified to explain what coding is to people who don't code, which is actually really rare because a lot of developers, as Martin says, don't want to, or literally just don't know how to articulate what they're doing. Whereas we are trained in articulating what it is that we're doing, why it's meaningful and why it takes a certain amount of time.
Alex: Zimt & Mehl - the Turkish bakery around the corner. It’s just soo good.
Martin: Oh, there is this Italian restaurant called Ristorante del Arte
Tony: Oh, my God, this place is so funny. It looks like a pretty average Italian restaurant, but the whole interior design inside is just decorated in such a weird way. The entire place is covered in frescoes. They have crystal chandeliers and Easter bunnies. Some Greek columns. It has a different name on the menu, on the side and on the Internet. And it was an ex-shoe-store.
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