Vertical farm modules fast-tracked to supply locals in need

A CHAP Member is fast-tracking the building of two vertical farm modules in Bristol during the COVID-19 outbreak.

LettUs Grow, an indoor farming technology provider, says it expects the first of its new aeroponic farm modules to be ready to start producing fresh produce this month, with the first harvests ready just 10 days after the farm’s commissioning. A second, larger module is scheduled to follow in June.

The fact that most of the farm’s operations are automated, enables the units to be run with only one person on site at any given time. Since little contact time is necessary, growers are able to visit the farm in shifts to sow, harvest and package crops while continuing to practice social distancing. This minimises the strain on an already stretched farm labour force. The food is also produced in a high care environment with few people coming into contact with it.

Once up and running, the farms will be able to provide a consistent, predictable and climate-resilient food supply to the local community all year round.

The coronavirus outbreak has shone a spotlight on the fragility of the UK’s just-in-time food supply chain. The UK only produces 50% of the food it consumes, which leaves it vulnerable to shocks in the global supply chain. The closures and lockdowns enforced due to the pandemic, have created logistical bottlenecks that ripple across these lengthy chains.

Jack Farmer, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of LettUs Grow said: “When we founded LettUs Grow, we wanted to enable anyone, anywhere in the world, to grow fresh produce near its point of consumption. That mission has hardly ever felt as urgent as it does today. We knew we had to get involved and help in any way we could.

“Because our farm modules can be deployed anywhere that has a reliable electricity and water supply, they are uniquely positioned to increase regions’ food supply chain resilience by diversifying local food production.”

To ensure the produce gets to those who need it most, the food produced in these farm modules will be donated locally.

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