Ekonoke: From lettuces to hops

When we launched our new brand ekonoke in 2019, we asked ourselves:

How can we grow urban climate-resilient vegetables, healthy, sustainable and without giving up the taste and nutrients of freshly harvested food?

At that time, we were targeting the local conscious consumer who was looking for food as unprocessed as possible, free of chemicals, pesticides and single-use plastics, saving water and avoiding the heavy CO2 footprint of food that travels thousands of kilometers to get to your table.

Our experience growing in a greenhouse had made us even more aware of the dire consequences of climate change, with increasingly longer summers, frequent extreme weather events and significantly higher temperatures.

In Spain, the land of the sun, it was becoming mandatory to learn how to grow indoors. We started to grow lettuces and microgreens in our own vertical farming facility just outside of Madrid and delivered them alive and ready to harvest to the local conscious consumer.

Vertical urban farming is a fast-growing industry which can reduce the environmental impacts of conventional farming. At scale, this method of farming will reduce the pressures on land, biodiversity, natural habitat and climate of feeding a growing population. It provides local, fresh, organic and reliable food all year round. It guarantees food security and greater harvests for increasingly conscious consumption. Its exponential growth is crucial because climate change is impacting on food production faster than expected. Its success will go hand in hand with the development and improvement of renewable energies.

Over the past two years we have learned a great deal about vertical farming and our brand is already identified as a company that masters how to grow vegetables indoors, sustainably, intensively and 100% resilient to the unpredictability of the weather.

Our hydroponic growing methods allow us to maximize quality and production per square meter, ensuring the ideal conditions for the optimal growth of plants. We also focus on growing local crops, as close as possible to their point of consumption, avoiding the use of pesticides or single-use plastics, reducing water footprint by 20 and using always renewable energy for carbon neutral production.

We believe that in the near future food and ingredients will stop traveling hundreds or thousands of kms; only knowledge will travel.

Researching crops with high climate change risk, we have pioneered in growing hops indoors. In order to scale up our initial research, we partnered with Cosecha de Galicia, the agricultural innovation powerhouse of the Hijos de Rivera Group, owners of the famous beer Estrella de Galicia, among other beverages.

Hops – the green gold that gives beer its distinct bitterness and aroma – is under significant threat from climate variations, both in terms of quantity and quality of annual harvests. Extreme droughts, erratic temperature patterns and generally higher Summer temperatures are affecting aroma hops and their ⍺-acid contents (by up to 60%). With year-on-year yield variations that can move +/- 30%, brewers big and small are looking for a solution, and we believe that we are on the right track to tackle it. We will therefore now focus all our efforts on the indoor farming of hops for the brewing industry.

Ekonoke holds firm on its promise to sustainably guarantee the quality, quantity and frequency of harvests of wide variety of hops. Now focused on a unique crop, knowledge, R&D and technology remain central to the new ekonoke.