Vertical farm accelerates rollout for Covid-19 crisis

Vertical farm accelerates rollout for Covid-19 crisis

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Indoor farming technology provider LettUs Grow is building two vertical farm modules in the UK to help feed vulnerable communities during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The company, based in Bristol, UK, has won a number of awards for its ethical practices and is teaming up with a local food redistribution charity to ensure the produce gets to those who need it most. 

LettUs Grow expects the first of the LED-based aeroponic vertical farm modules to be ready to start producing fresh produce from mid-April, with the first harvests ready to be delivered to the charity just ten days after the farm’s commissioning. A second, larger module will be following in June. 

The farm’s operations are automated and run with only one person on site at any given time to allow social distancing of key workers and minimising 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. A vertical farm is energy-intensive, and the company has a deal with supplier Octopus Energy to use energy from purely renewable wind and solar sources. 

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 per cent 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 also created logistical bottlenecks that ripple across these lengthy chains

“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,” said Jack Farmer, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of LettUs Grow. “Because our farm modules can be deployed anywhere with an electricity and water supply, they are uniquely positioned to increase regions’ food supply chain resilience by diversifying local food production.”

Edited 15/4/20 to remove the name of the charity by request 

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