Latest vertical farm has social as well as financial goals

The UK's latest commercial vertical farm has begun production in a disused warehouse in Deptford, southeast London.

Image: Vertical Future
Image: Vertical Future

The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Jamie and Marie-Alexandrine Burrows, MiniCrops will use an ebb-and-flow system with lighting provided by Philips and equipment from Cambridge HOK, yielding 1.5 tonnes of leafy produce a month.

Though its official launch takes place on 29 July, the facility has already gone through "three or four" crop cycles, Jamie Burrows told Horticulture Week.

"We set up Vertical Futures in December to have several themes and solutions, driven by our background in health," he explained.

"The food theme is about sustainability, food security, nutrition, education and communities. We were interested in areas of deprivation but where there is a growing middle class. The most receptive audience so far have been middle-income families."

Boxes of around 20 different varieties of microgreens and herbs will be delivered to homes and businesses. "The pricing is just below the open market", he added. "When we reach a critical mass we will invest in electric delivery vehicles."

The company is "already in discussions" about expanding elsewhere, but "these things take time", he said. And he predicted: "In five to six years' time we will have large-scale production of this sort in the UK as they already have in the US."

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