Plans for a large-scale indoor vertical farm in Suffolk would play a significant role in the development of the region’s clean growth ambitions and contribute to its reputation for world-leading science and research.
OneFarm is proposing to create one of the largest vertical farms in the UK at Newmarket Business Park and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has agreed to a £2.5m loan from its Growing Places Fund.
An accompanying investment offer has been launched via regulated ethical investment crowdfunding platform, Abundance Investment, with a view to raising up to £6.7m for the development, which will use an existing warehouse that has recently been renovated and fitted with solar panels.
Indoor growth towers are used to produce food on a fraction of the land that is needed for conventional farming. OneFarm’s modular approach to growing will use highly precise climate control and LED lighting technology, which allows a single site to grow a highly reliable and flexible supply of produce, 365 days a year, whatever the weather.
The first phase of the project will supply at full production an estimated 415 tonnes of vegetables a year from 6,400m2 of vertical growing space.
Iain Dunnett, the LEP’s Growing Places Fund Senior Coordinator, said: “The LEP is fully supportive of this project, which it views as a highly innovative development for our important agri-tech sector. The farm will also 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 resilience.
“Our support for One Farm reflects our desire to make sustainable investments in the 21st century and we will play a very positive role in promoting this investment opportunity, alongside One Farm, Abundance, and other partners.”
Farming of this kind is already becoming a keystone in the production mix in countries such as the US, Germany and France. In the UK, there are some small existing projects and some larger ones now under development.
Another similar development is being completed by Fischer Farms, which is developing a £25m vertical farm at the 100-acre Food Enterprise Park at Honingham near Norwich, creating 25,000sqm of stacked growing space for salad leaves, herbs and other fresh produce for supermarkets. The company says it will be able to produce the same amount of food in its four-acre building as would be possible on 1,000 acres of conventional British farmland.
New Anglia LEP invested £1m in the development of the Food Enterprise Park and its Food Innovation Centre, which is currently under construction, was part-funded with £2.7m from the government’s Getting Building fund and £1.44m from the LEP’s Growing Places Fund.
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