Good Bank is the first “vertical farm to table restaurant” in Berlin. Although, the Good Bank claims ” worldwide“on its website, but in the US and Asia there are now many restaurants equipped with the vertical hydroponic gardens. The German capital city is a paradise for foodies. In the last years lots of innovative restaurants, pop-up food stores and food based start-ups have swamped the city, reflecting the international flair of their residents. Good Bank perfectly filled the gap of fast, local and eco-businesses.

hydroponic lettuce

Fan lights are slowly rotating around the salad © Monika Thomasberger

Conveniently located just a five minute walk from Alexanderplatz, best known for the famous Fernsehturm (Television Tower), the casual eatery, Good Bank is unique with its concept of salad to plate. When stepping inside, one can immediately notice the high glass cabinets with fan lights slowly rotating around the shelves with green salad. Leaving a lab-like futuristic impression, unusual and eye-catching.
The Good Bank only opened at the end of this March but their salads, veggies and grains are popular not only with locals but also with tourists. They use carbon-neutral delivery guys who on bicycles ride off to the nearby offices. Behind the counter, Kat, originally from Canada, is preparing each bowl carefully, adding different salad leaves like kale, oak leaf or butter lettuce that were harvested just minutes ago. It cannot get more fresh than that!

A vertical hydroponic farm like at Good Bank reduces carbon footprint

The hydroponic vertical farm was installed by Infarm, a Berlin hybrid research lab for vertical farming. Surprisingly, the energy and water consumption for the entire farming plant is very low. The salads take between 20 to 28 days to grow in an optimised soil-free environment or hydroponics, a subset of hydroculture. This means that the lettuce plantation not only turns urban space into productive farms, they are also beneficial to our environment as no packaging is needed, and transport routes are rendered obsolete. Also the vertical hydroponic farm doesn’t need to use any herbicides, pesticides or genetically modified seeds. With the help of air circulation and not being rooted in soil, most diseases are markedly reduced. Good Bank even claims that their salads contain more nutrients than those from conventional agriculture.*

Good Bank in Berlin

© Monika Thomasberger

Mix and Match your bowl at Good Bank

I tried the “Salmon Dijon” salad with salmon, potatoes, radish, baby kale, red onions, spinach, broccoli, and Dijon mayonnaise. All salads based on one of the three lettuces farmed are available in small or large size. But you can also mix and match your own bowls with grains, meat or cheeses starting at €5.20 for a small size and €6.50 for a large one.
Desserts such as Rhubarb cake, Raw-chocolate cake or Almond oat cake between €2.50 and €4.50 are well priced. To quench your thirst, sourced from the local startups are around 13 different lemonades, infused waters and other drinks. Good Bank is still developing the menu, offering more desserts and pressed juices from yet another Berlin startup.

hydroponic farming cafe in Berlin

© Monika Thomasberger

It might get a little bit playful using the vertical farming at Good Bank as other ingredients still have to be delivered, but this concept gives us a glimpse of a more sustainable future of eating out. Vertical hydroponic farming can be a practical and innovating way to enrich our tables with the freshest plant foods.
*Note by the editor: More research on this is needed to prove it. What we know so far is that the soil or water (preferably mineralised water is used in hydroponics) in which the salad is grown affects more its nutrient density than do organic practices. Harvesting it right there next to your bowl or plate makes a difference as plenty of sensitive nutrients are diminished after being picked and with the contact with oxygen. Here is a great video on vertical hydroponic restaurants in the US, and on LMB we also featured the vertical farm at the K11 Mall in Shanghai.
Read about the author Monika Thomasberger more on our Contributors page.
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