Swiss urban farming start-up UMAMI has found an innovative solution for farming in cramped urban conditions. Nature does the work in the ecosystem they developed, with mussels, snails and fish forming a water and nutrient cycle that provides plants with the nutrients they need to thrive. It’s an unending cycle that is completely natural and that functions without additives. In this way, the system forms the basis for the cultivation of microgreens – very young herbs and vegetables with a significantly higher content of essential oils, vitamins, proteins and minerals than the same plants in the adult stage. They provide an unbelievably intense flavour that can be savoured with every bite.

The tender little plants grow where their growers have also made their home – in the middle of the urban jungle, on the fourth floor of a high-rise office building in Zurich.

In our report from the vertical farm, we show you how the UMAMIGOS grow their potent plants, what drives the founders to pursue this idea – and why they believe in their product.


Originally, the three founders sought to open a restaurant together because “good food has always been the centre of our lives,” according to Robin, one of the co-founders of UMAMI. But then the three of them were taken with a grander vision: They began to work to improve the aquaponics cycle so that it would not require synthetic substances or antibiotics. In the UMAMI ecosystem, each living organism has a specific function and contributes to the efficiency of the purely natural nutrient cycle.

The start-up quickly found success, and today its customers include major retail chains as well as top chefs at gourmet restaurants throughout Switzerland.

mini umami


Denis is a co-founder of UMAMI and also a member of the executive board. He is proud of what he and his friends have achieved so far: “UMAMI is proof that the ideas of ecology and economy can be brought into harmony with one another.” However, he doesn’t want to stop there: in his portrait, you will learn how important his team and the daily work they do together are to him – and how he is developing UMAMI’s vision for the future with clear goals and a strong focus.


Robin, also a co-founder and member of the executive board, strongly believes that “the bigger and more complex an ecosystem is, the more stable it behaves”. The most important lesson he has learned is that things never turn out as planned. For this reason, he remains flexible and sees every challenge as an opportunity. His goal is to develop even more products that are made so that they are more efficient and healthier than in conventional agriculture.


As a co-founder responsible for research and development, Manuel knows that “nature shows you how to do things – you just have to understand”. In his lab, he conducts research on new components for the UMAMI cycle and has even recreated the “brookside” ecosystem in a small home system. The model has been so successful that he is already harvesting plants from it every day. The most important lesson he has learned: “Don’t pick a fight with water!”