Crop revolution

Only way is up for Scottish firm planning ‘vertical farms’

Basil crop at one of the vertical sites

A Scottish start-up plans to build dozens of indoor ‘vertical farms’ across the UK, capable of growing up to five times the volume of vegetables as a traditional farm.

Edinburgh-based Shockingly Fresh has launched a crowdfunding campaign to develop five sites countrywide, using special hydroponic towers to grow multiple crop cycles.

The firm believes the increased yields from its farms will help British growers boost crop production and reduce the UK’s reliance on costly off-season imports from the EU. The enclosed environment will also mean using fewer pesticides and the production of cleaner crops.

The rights to one site in Scotland and four in England have already been secured, covering a total of 50 hectares. A site in Worcestershire is awaiting full planning consent and there are talks about a project in Oman.

Vertical farming is an idea which has already taken root. In June Ocado invested £17 million in the sector, and now Marks & Spencer is growing premium vertical greens on-site at some of its flagship London stores. 

Bloomberg reports that the market will increase 12% annually and be worth $16 billion globally by 2025.  

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