Q&A: Babylon Micro-Farms’ Alexander Olesen

Departments - Consumer Corner

The company’s CEO discusses filling their niche, growth in the space and more.

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March 16, 2022

Photos courtesy of Babylon Micro-Farms

According to Babylon Micro-Farms CEO Alexander Olesen, the company’s niche is being a turn-key solution for its customers. He says this is for a few reasons.

“For one, people want to get into indoor growing, but don’t have the means to build a full-scale greenhouse,” he says. “But they might have the ability to get into microgreens or a container farm. And we’re just getting a lot of innovation at this smaller scale level — more so than I’d say than at the larger scale level.” Babylon’s main product is a hydroponic micro-farm that users can grow over 40 different crops in for on-site use. The company’s primary customers are hospitals, senior living facilities and schools.

In an interview with Produce Grower, Olesen explains Babylon’s customer base for its on-location farms for different crops, how they explain the concept and more.

Produce Grower: What has Babylon seen as being successful in the broader CEA space?

Alexander Olesen: I would start by noting that a lot of our benchmarks are different than that of a big grower — price per head, shelf life, etc. We don’t really have any supply chain — we are more focused on engagement. With that in mind, hospitals and educational institutions have been massive growth areas for us. We are placing these farms at the point of consumption and helping create this farm-to-table experience right next to the salad bar, in some cases. Those are the projects we’ve seen a lot of growth with.

PG: Do you find that you have trouble introducing your concept to potential customers, even as broader CEA awareness grows?

AO: Yes and no. We are introducing a new concept into the market — very few of the customers are farmers. Some have done some gardening, but very few people have grown for consumption at a meaningful volume. And while we are definitely at the lower end of the volume spectrum, there is definitely a need to convince and show people why they should do this and change their workflows. I think that, by and large, people [who] are riding tailwinds are people who are so aware of quality, local, fresh, pesticide free — all of those things. Those really help us in the same way they help the industry.

PG: When you’ve had success with different clients, what is it that people respond to?

AO: We are tapping into the innate human desire to grow your own food and be more self-sufficient. We’ve built a platform that allows people to have high-quality produce all year round with a fraction of the effort of a conventional grower. We’ve really streamlined the process there so we can deliver that farm-to-table experience at scale. ... Watching your food grow is part of the value proposition for us.