Fyn.food – Hummus from Swiss Soil

As part of our Innovation Series, we present you with 5 projects of the ETH Student Project House: an initiative of the ETH Zurich to foster maker and innovator mindset in students. All these projects have started during the Pandemic and have found the positive in a volatile period. The projects are Fyn.Food, Greenovate, Developer’s Club, Seismohealth, rootlinks

Local farming is our future. Less transport means fewer emissions. Current events -such as Covid and the ship stuck in the Suez channel- have shown us that local businesses become more important when the unexpected happens. Additionally, the global food trends move from meat to plant-based diets. A massive movement, which requires a big shift in the production of these crops as well. 

Growing alternative crops is not uncommon in Switzerland; the soil is good for many different products. Unfortunately, many farmers are held back, because they struggle with market access. So, that is why Anik Thaler, Cyrill Hess, and Tobias Vogel are helping local farmers offset their harvest, by creating an end-product: Hummus. They started working on this project in the ETH Student Project House, an initiative of the ETH Zurich to foster maker- and innovator mindsets in students. Read more about SPH here.

“Chickpeas are easy to harvest, don’t need any fertilizer,
and bring Nitrogen back to the soil.”

Currently, Lukas Weidmann uses about 3 hectares of his land to grow chickpeas organically and locally. He took over his parent’s farm, which is only 20 minutes away from the center of Zurich, now 3 years ago and is ready to be part of the innovative future of farming. When I visited the field, Lukas explained that there will be 1 chickpea per flower, with approximately 1 ton of chickpeas per hectare, harvested in October. But of course, it all depends on how good our summer will be. 

Fyn.food’s first idea was to sell their hummus to cafes and other eateries, which worked well. Or, well, it worked for approximately 1 month until all restaurants and cafes had to close their doors. This, however, didn’t stop fyn.food from continuing its business. Now you can find their products in organic shops around the city. Anik said that they believe their impact is even bigger while selling directly to the consumer. 

“Don’t forget that farmers are innovators. Our current farmer wrote us
via Instagram about his interest in participating as a producer.”

But this is not where they want to stop, the ultimate dream is to have chickpea fields all over Switzerland. You’ll find a QR code on all of their packages and can even bike by the fields where your future Hummus is growing. 

So, what is holding them back at the moment? “Time and money”. Anik is still studying Agricultural science at ETH and cannot work on the project full time yet, but after summer 2021 she’ll be all in. Money is also needed to grow more chickpeas. “We need to have bigger batches and more certainty of production to be able to sell to bigger retailers. Once we can sell to big retailers, we can reach every consumer, not only the ones shopping in specialty shops.”

Do you want to help Anik and her team to reach every consumer in Switzerland?
Check out their website and online shop here and feel free to reach out! 

Sarah Ebling

          Sarah Ebling holds a professorship in Accessibility Studies at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and is a senior researcher at the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on natural language processing in the context of disabilities and special needs, specifically, sign language technology and automatic text simplification. Her groups’ contributions involve artificial intelligence techniques with a strong emphasis on user involvement. She is involved in various international and national projects and leads a large-scale Swiss innovation initiative entitled „Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies“ (2022-2026; https://www.iict.uzh.ch/).