Julian Ruiz - local entrepreneur and sustainable food enthusiast - surprised and amazed us all when he introduced The Ygdrasyl Project in 2014.
Julian hosted a big party at a local cáfe in Voss, showed us his plan for a better future and launched a successfully funded Indigogo campaign. Beginning his journey towards more efficient ways of growing food and more sustainable agricultural practices.
We had quick chat with Julian about The Ygdrasyl Project and what the future holds.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and Ygdrasyl?
I came to Voss to work as a cook at Voss Vandreheim for the summer. My plan was to go to Sweden after then travel down south to Denmark then Germany. However, I fell in love with Voss and Norway. I liked coffee and decided to open Tre Brør Cafe with a few other people. I saw the potential Voss and Norway had to offer and decided to stay. Since then I have been working to promote local products, sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship.
One of the reasons I started Ygdrasyl is because I believe the future of food is local. I hope that one day we can have a local farmers market in every town in Norway, with freshly harvested vegetables, even during the middle of winter.
Ygdrasyl is a technical structure that grows food indoors, manages resources and converts renewable energy.
Why did you start this project? What inspired you?
In 2013 I realized that the future of food was going to be local. Norway imports over 70% of all its fresh fruits and vegetables. I saw this as an opportunity to lessen Norway's carbon footprint and reduce its dependency on foreign imports. It is also important to realize that on average our food travels 2,400km, during this time the food degrades and so does the nutrition. Growing food locally would also reduce our food waste.
The word Ygdrasyl comes from Viking mythology and it means the tree of life. This is where all life gets their energy force from.
You get to represent Norway in 4th Future Agro Challenge Global Championships. What are you doing there and what does that mean for Ygdrasyl?
Representing Norway in this competition is a huge opportunity to exhibit in Turkey and the world the concept of Ygdrasyl. We of course also want to win and receive international funding for our project. Last year the top 3 finalists were able to raise $30 million dollars in funding.
What's next for you and The Ygdrasyl Project?
The worlds food system is experiencing a shift towards sustainability and automation. Ygdrasyl meets these needs head on!
Food Safety and transparency, locally grown and fresh produce all year round, green energy production, robotics/automation, fossil fuel free food, natural resource management and eventually in the far future - create the infrastructure for agricultural artificial intelligence.
When Ygdrasyl was introduced in 2014 there were no other automated vertical farms. Today Sony, Panasonic, Sharp and even Kimbal Musk is involved in developing vertical farms all over the world. Last year a company based in Silicon Valley called Plenty managed to raise $250 million dollars in funding. Ygdrasyl wants to be a global leader in next-generation agriculture.
We wish Julian the best of luck in Turkey, also if you happen to be in Bergen, Julian Ruiz has recently started up a boutique in Marken where you can get delicious soup, sandwiches and organic produce! Highly recommended!