UK’s first hydroponic hop farm moves to Ceredigion

Traditionally, hops are grown in fields, taking up vast areas of land. Gareth Davies, Founder, and Director of Dark Farm grows his hops in pots, indoors, using hydroponic growing methods – normally used for crops like salad leaves and herbs rather than a plant that can reach 7.5 m (25ft) in height.

Believed to be the first indoor hop yard in the whole UK, Dark Farm offers a quarterly hop subscription to homebrewers, and has recently relocated to a disused warehouse near Lampeter. They are out to prove that the benefits of hydroponics can revolutionize hop farming.

"Growing hops in a controlled environment and adjusting the nutrient feed according to their growing cycle saves a great deal of water," says Davies. "Growing indoors also protects the hops from pests and diseases. We don’t use any pesticides or fungicides on our hops. And the feed we give them is organic."

Davies, whose background is in web development rather than farming, launched his business in Devon in 2017. Now Davies and his wife, who grew up in Carmarthenshire, have returned to Wales to continue their journey and build on their experience. "Homebrewing is becoming more and more popular, especially since lockdown," says Davies, "We’ve been having to supplement our hop subscription service with hops grown on other farms to keep up with demand. Our vision is to supply our members with hops grown entirely on our indoor farm – apart from certain varieties which we can’t produce ourselves."

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