An Edinburgh-based start-up company is developing its first site hydroponic farming site at Offenham, near Evesham, on the Valefresco site. The project should be up and running this year.
Shockingly Fresh will build 12,338 m2 of polytunnels for the vertical hydroponic cultivation of salad leaves and herbs. The selected system (produced by Birmingham-based Saturn Bioponics) stacks a number of pots on top of each other with spacers between them, which are then formed into rows of columns.
Garth Bryans, Chief Operating Officer at Shockingly Fresh, said: “The Midlands are ideal for vertical farming. The climate is good, there is a well-established horticulture sector and it is close to major markets and road networks, so it makes sense for us to begin our rollout plans here.
“We have identified a significant market – particularly around the early and late season shoulder months which is currently filled by imported crops from Europe. We believe a raft of sites across the country will enable British growers to compete on a level field.”
Shockingly Fresh says that its system offers a range of benefits including reducing the footprint of farming. Benefits also come from the closed loop nature of the system, which significantly reduces the use of water and nutrients, as well as preventing run-off into the local environment.
Hydroponics extends the growing season in a semi-controlled environment, making it possible to significantly reduce the level of imported crops, reducing HGV traffic into sites such as the Valefresco site at Offenham.
This project is being developed by Shockingly Fresh Ltd as a medium-scale technology demonstration, aiming to provide the evidence required to finance full-scale commercial projects around the UK.
Shockingly Fresh is partnering with Valefresco on the project. Valefresco owns and operates one of the small-scale commercial systems and has the operational experience with the system.