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  • Food and Beverages

out 20, 2017
Food and Beverages

Meet Be Green, Latin America’s first urban farm

One of the main obstacles in the food supply chain is the distance between producers and consumers. This leads to transportation costs, not to mention the pollution caused by trucks carrying food. But one company located in the heart of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, is tackling the problem. Be Green has created Latin America’s first urban farm.

Since May, Be Green has been operating within the premises of a mall, and has quickly become the go-to provider of vegetables for local restaurants. The company also operates a small organic food market, attracting 1,500 people per day during the week. On the weekends, the daily headcount is even higher: Be Green regularly attracts approximately 3,500 customers a day on Saturdays and Sundays.

Behind the initiative are two men in their late 20s. Giuliano Bitencourt, 26, and Pedro Graziano, 29, first built on their concept in 2016. Be Green started was first conceived after Bitencourt, working for a state-owned startup incubator, attended a MIT Media Lab program. It was his first moment of contact with the idea of urban farms, and it gave him a light bulb moment.

“I love to cook and I believe it is important to raise awareness about traceability of what we eat. Eating healthy, pesticide-free food shouldn’t be a privilege, but a right to everyone,” Bitencourt told BeBrasil.

While the dream was big, the project took off way sooner than Bitencourt and Graziano expected. In the minds of the creators, they would operate a regular farm for a few years, study the market and choose the best moment and location to start their urban farms. “During one farmers’ market, we met a manager working for Belo Horizonte’s Boulevard Shopping, who totally bought into the idea. Within a few months, we had sold the [regular] farm and were working to erect our urban farm,” Bitencourt explains.

Besides the organic market, Be Green sells kits for people who want to plant their own vegetables. “We want to offer a healthy-life experience and impact at least 5 million people until 2019,” says Be Green’s creator. How, you might ask? “We already have public school groups coming to visit every week. The kids who come are prone to develop an environmental conscience and stimulate that concern with their families.” For Bitencourt, Brazilians have never been so aware of the importance of eating healthy.

But Be Green is also about effectiveness. The company has invested in optimized production processes and, according to the owners, have reached productivity levels 28 times higher than regular farmers. And the price is similar to what you would pay for organic vegetables in the supermarket.

Be Green has been a profitable venture from the start, and will soon expand to Brazil’s biggest urban centers: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. “We want to bring change to as many places as possible,” he told BeBrasil.