Indoor growing system earns innovation award

West Midlands-based urban growing specialist Hydrogarden has taken the Innovation Award at the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards.

HydroGarden commercial sales manager Stephen Fry collects the award - image: EEF
HydroGarden commercial sales manager Stephen Fry collects the award - image: EEF

Judges noted the company's drive to achieve sustainability and its ambition to become carbon-neutral through its vertical farming solution, V-Farm, and praised its innovative approach to engaging with a variety of customers.

V-farm is a fully controllable vertical farming concept, bespoke to the needs of the end user, whether growing on an urban rooftop, warehouse or even in space.

HydroGarden managing director Jonathan Aldridge said: "Manufacturers are amongst the most prolific and successful innovators in the UK, so to win this award is a great accomplishment and compliment to our team."

The company reported last year that interest in urban and enclosed growing systems was growing "even among old-school growers, some of whom are already seeing huge savings." 

The company has helped equip recent high-profile London urban agriculture ventures GrowUp, an aquaponics complex in a warehouse in Beckton; and Growing Underground, a subterranean hydroponic salad farm in Clapham.

The company has already equipped two farms in Singapore and one in Australia, growing micro-greens, herbs and salads and has developed growing protocols for around 20 crops including strawberries, pak choi and even rhubarb.

Key to this has been its own experimental Project Urban Grow facility at its base in Coventry. This trial version of the VydroFarm system occupies just 24sq m but has a growing area of 55sq m thanks to its five-storey NFT hydroponic growing system on three mobile racks, which can produce nearly 2,000 lettuces in 28 days.

It uses Valoya LED lighting including the Finnish manufacturer's full-spectrum model. 

Formerly the Engineering Employers Federation, EEF works to champion manufacturing and engineering in the UK and the EU.

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