The farms, which can grow up to five times as many greens as traditional farms, have the potential to help reduce the UK reliance on imports from the EU, according to Shockingly Fresh.
The new Edinburgh-based company has just received planning permission for a 1.2ha site near Offenham in Worcestershire for its first low-cost naturally lit ‘vertical farm’ – which uses special hydroponic towers to grow multiple crop cycles of green veg, such as salads and herbs.
The specialist firm has approval from Wychavon District Council to build a state-of-the-art 11,899m2 greenhouse on the site in partnership with indoor farming specialist Saturn Bioponics and nationwide salad grower Valefresco.
The farm will be completed this summer and will then start producing crops shortly thereafter.
The Shockingly Fresh team is now planning a rapid roll-out of its indoor farms, with plans to develop more than 40 projects UK-wide in its first five years
Garth Bryans, COO at Shockingly Fresh said that the Midlands was 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 roll-out plans here,” he said.
“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.”
The company calculates the increased output from its projects will offset the-set up costs, plus the enclosed environment will mean fewer pesticides and cleaner crops.
Shockingly Fresh said it was already developing a number of sites countrywide and was keen to speak to landowners and investors to further accelerate its expansion.
“We have partnered with hydroponic specialist Saturn Bioponics, which supplies all of the equipment, and we are focused on raising finance, finding sites and securing planning consent,” Bryans added.
“If our plans develop as we hope, then vertical farms will become an important part of the UK vegetable supply chain.”