Urban Health Farms has opened two R&D Farms, with production beginning in Venlo, the Netherlands on 1 November 2021 and in Brussels on 1 January 2022.
At the first Research & Demonstration Farm, UHF will be testing more than 20 different crops under 4 different growing environments, as well as developing new salad mixes with chefs and offtake partners for retail and hospitality industries. From there, steady, small-scale productions of leafy greens, herbs, and microgreens will commence. This facility is in partnership with Brightbox, an initiative of Botany, HAS University of Applied Sciences, and Signify (former Philips), and is located at the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, which offers research facilities as well as access to a kitchen and other specialist equipment, scientists, and entrepreneurs who study the impact of nutrition on health, something UHF holds as a core value.
The second R&D Farm will begin production once the Venlo facility is producing at full capacity and is in partnership with Urban Harvest, a team of vertical farming experts. Like at the Venlo Farm, early harvests will focus on leafy greens, herbs, and microgreens, as well as testing strawberry production. Located in Brussels at the Abattoir’s Urban Farm project, this Demo Farm has the ability to produce over 22,500 plants a month, utilizing 9 different growing layers. The retrofitted Abattoir is the first facility of this scale in Europe. Located in the heart of Brussels in the former meatpacking district, this previously abandoned facility promotes a circular economy by utilizing rainwater for irrigation, 12,000 m2 of solar panels for energy, and revitalizes urban areas for locally grown produce.
"In the ramp up to our commercial indoor vertical farms in the Netherlands and Spain in 2022, the Research & Demonstration Farms will place a priority on R&D and co-development with potential off-takers as well as offering demonstrations, tours, and taste-testing for investors and customers. With the produce grown in the R&D Farms, UHF will fulfill initial agreements with retail and food service providers and will donate any surplus to local food banks. Both of the UHF R&D Farms will be overseen by Wageningen University and Research graduate Jooseop Park as the agronomist and operator and will utilize the equipment, technology, and knowledge of our partners.
“Our Demo Farms are an excellent opportunity to offer customers and partners the ability to taste the fresh, premium quality produce Urban Health Farms will be producing,” says Joost Verhagen, UHF’s Commercial Director.
Bernard Sleijster, Urban Health Farms Founder & Director of Investor Relations and Business Development agrees that the Demo Farms are a great opportunity to exhibit the exciting things to come for Urban Health Farms. “Both of our Demo Farms offer benefits, and we are able to offer the opportunity to both customers and investors to come and see how efficient our indoor vertical farms operate while also maximizing production in a sustainable way. The opportunity to actually sample the product and taste firsthand how fresh and flavorful our produce is can’t be overstated.”