A vast vertical farm capable of producing 415 tonnes of herbs and salad a year is to be developed in a former warehouse in Suffolk after a lease agreement was signed.
OneFarm, a Dutch vertical farming company, plans to open the new 6,400m² facility at Newmarket Business Park.
Built by agri-tech specialists IGS, the farm will be the first of 25 which OneFarm and IGS plan to deliver around the UK in the coming years. It is expected to be operational by around May 2023.
The first phase involves a growing area in nine-metre-high growth towers which will be retrofitted into the existing disused warehouse site. A second phase is set to involve an area of 13,000m sq which would increase the overall farm capacity to 1,000t a year.
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership provided a £2.5m loan from its Growing Places Fund for the scheme which has been funded by public and private investors.
“Consumers deserve locally grown, fresh, good-quality food, grown without pesticides and with low water usage, and OneFarm’s in-house brand, Wholly Food, provides just that,” said Mira Merme, OneFarm CEO.
“With the IGS technology, we will deliver those commitments to our customers and consumers alike. Its levels of flexibility to grow a wider variety of produce is superior to all other competitors and we believe its dedication to product innovation will bring even greater benefits to our farms as we expand in the future.”
Iain Dunnett, senior Growing Places Fund co-ordinator at the LEP, said: “The LEP recognises that OneFarm’s Newmarket development will make a significant contribution to our Clean Growth ambitions for the Eastern Region of the UK.
“We are fully supportive of the farm business, a highly innovative development for the important agri-tech sector. The farm will contribute to the world-leading science and research base that exists in the East of England in relation to sustainable food production, land use and climate resilience.”