UK developer Jones Food Company has announced construction has started on a 148,000sq ft vertical farm in Gloucestershire – a multi-million pound venture that the group says will be the largest site of its kind in the world.
The group opened its first vertical farm three years ago in Sunthorpe, and at the time it was the largest building of its kind in Europe – equivalent to 26 tennis courts of growing space. The latest facility – which will reportedly have capacity to supply at least 1,000 tonnes of produce every year – is expected to open its doors at the beginning of 2022. It has been launched with the help of funding from online retailer Ocado, received in June this year.
“With this new facility we further accelerate Britain’s position as a world-leader when it comes to vertical farming,” said founder James Lloyd-Jones. “We already supply thousands of British retail stores with basil grown in our first facility in Lincolnshire but this new site, which is three times bigger, will allow us to supply tens of thousands more stores and to widen our product offer with our partners.”
“Our food supply chain is under significant stress, with empty supermarket shelves and shortages of foods increasingly commonplace,” he added. “Vertical farming is undoubtedly a vital part of the UK’s and the world’s farming future.”
The company’s vertical farming technology allows for produce to be cultivated in stacked rows, reducing land use and transportation to get the food from A to B. Renewable-powered hydroponic lighting is used in the greenhouses, allowing for produce to be grown every day of the year. This, coupled with the lack of pesticides and reduced water consumption, makes the process far greener than traditional methods.
Expanding the vertical farming industry has been highlighted as a priority for the company, with the group also looking to expand into other parts of Britain such as Cornwall, Yorkshire, Argyll, and Fermanagh.
“Given what we’re already doing, the world-leading technology we have and the intensely pressing need for more sustainable forms of farming over coming decades, we plan to be able to supply 70% of the UK’s fresh produce within the next 10 years,” Lloyd-Jones concluded.