Vegetory brings the concept of farm to table quite literally, especially when it’s right inside the mall.

Us city folk have forgotten what it’s like to be on a farm after many months of not being able to travel even up north to Cameron Highlands. What if we told you that you could get the farm experience of picking your vegetables right here in the city: within Bangsar Shopping Centre, to be precise? If you’ve been in the mall recently, chances are you’ve noticed a vertical farming section filled with leafy vegetables ripe for the picking. You’re looking at Vegetory, the latest leading indoor vertical farmers promoting environmentally sustainable farming practices.

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Vegetory in Bangsar Shopping Centre.

For those who have not heard of Vegetory and its work, the method of farming that they do produces crops of higher nutritional value through some of the most advanced agriculture technology available. They do so while ensuring the safety of the environment by using zero pesticides. The vertical farming method also uses hydroponic growing, which means no soil is used — only nutrient-rich water. This way, less water is used compared to traditional farming.

But their sustainable methods don’t stop there. Vegetory is all about providing fully-traceable produce and growing them closer to home. This way, the vegetables can be picked and delivered at the peak of the plant’s freshness for the most optimum nutritional value. In comparison, with traditional farming methods, the produce may only be delivered several weeks after the harvesting process. Combine that with the travel from the highlands to the city and its carbon footprint increases.

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Celleste Kok, one of the co-founders of Vegetory.

To find out more about Vegetory, we spoke to its two founders Roy Liew and Celleste Kok. Both founders come from the science and technology industry, and are extremely dedicated in furthering their research and development in agrotech ventures.

What prompted you to start Vegetory?

After travelling to Taiwan and Japan to further our studies in vertical farming, we discovered that the vegetables grown in Japan and Taiwan tasted very different from the vegetables produced locally. We wanted to share these flavours that we experienced from fresh produce overseas with Malaysians.

Aside from that, we also placed heavy emphasis on the importance of food security, transparency, and traceability, which we reflect highly through the way vegetables are produced and prepared in Vegetory.

What gave you the idea to station this vertical farm right in the city?

Back in the day, only farmers had the privilege of enjoying the freshest produce right after a harvest. Farmers are able to harvest early in the morning and consume their produce within the day itself, and because of this, much of the nutrients and minerals are still preserved in the vegetables. 

However, due to how our cities are planned, it is hard for a traditional farm to be set up in the middle of the city. Therefore, daily essentials and produce will need to go through long-distance transportation, long term storage, and multiple hands before they can reach the end consumers. This causes the vegetables to lose their freshness and nutrients. Also, poor handling and pesticide issues can cause fresh produce to lose its original nutrition value as well.

Vegetory is set up in the middle of a major city to ensure that our produce can be harvested, packed, and delivered to our customers within the next day itself. By duplicating Vegetory’s proven method, this concept can actually be replicated in every corner of every country, making having fresh and nutritious food in the city no longer a dream, but a very possible reality.

How is vertical farming different or better than other forms of farming, especially for within the city?

Vertical farming allows us to control the different factors that affect the growth, taste, and nutrient level of the produce such as light intensity, amount of water, and type of medium. We are also able to forgo the usage of pesticides since our products are sent straight to our consumers for consumption instead of being kept in storage for long amounts of time. Hence, vegetables grown through the vertical farming method are tastier, more nutritious, safe from pesticides and herbicides, and remain fresh even by the time they reach the hands of the consumers.

 

Vegetory’s main vertical indoor farm.
How do you plan to appeal to city folk with Vegetory?

Life in the city is often very hectic and busy, and most city folks don’t have the time to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their family. Hence, they would usually resort to cooking instant noodles or just packing food from restaurants outside.

For example, I’ve heard people say that even meals such as a salad are too troublesome to prepare as one would need to clean the vegetables, spin them dry, and store them in the refrigerator for future consumption. This gives the impression that preparing something as simple as a salad is time-consuming and inconvenient. 

Luckily, vegetables grown and offered by Vegetory are ready for consumption right out of the box. All one would need is some salad dressing and additional condiments to their liking. We even allow customers to pluck and eat their vegetables on the spot for a taste test in our store! 

Ultimately, we want to change the eating habits of city folk, by giving them the option to consume vegetables which are not only high in nutrition value but convenient to prepare to match their busy lifestyles.

You have plans to open a farm-to-table cafe soon. Can you tell us more about that?

Our cafe, Mori Kohi is part of a larger project named Mori. The name Mori is derived from the Japanese word “森” which means “forest”. Hence, the cafe will be decorated with various flora to replicate the feeling of being one with the wilderness.

The Japanese word for coffee, on the other hand, is Kohi. Therefore, there will be an emphasis placed on coffee in the cafe. We will also be serving Western-style Japanese dishes as it bodes well with the Japanese theme. Of course, we will feature various healthy and nutritious ingredients in our dishes. We won’t be able to help ourselves. 

Since there is an event hall at Mori, we are also looking to run community activities in the event hall. We are definitely excited to show the world what we can provide to our customers through Mori and Mori Kohi in the future.

When is Mori Kohi expected to open?

Initially, we targeted to open our cafe, Mori in March 2021. However, due to the enforcement of MCO, we have decided to further delay the launch of the cafe to some time in mid-2021. Our customers’ safety will always be our top priority.

Find out more about Vegetory here

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.