OneFarm has announced its plans to deliver a 6,400m2 vertical farm in Newmarket, Suffolk, capable of growing up to 415 tonnes of food per annum to feed local people. The farm will be delivered in partnership with indoor agritech specialist, IGS Limited, and is funded by both public and private investors.
OneFarm will work alongside Suffolk County Council (SCC) and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) to deliver the indoor farm, construction of which is scheduled to commence later this year, with funds raised through Abundance Investment. The farm will play a significant role in the LEP’s development of its ‘Clean Growth’ ambitions for the region.
The multi-million-pound investment demonstrates a commitment to agricultural innovation which OneFarm believes will complement and boost the challenged traditional agriculture sector in this region. This first phase of development at Newmarket will deliver up to 6,400m2 of growing area in nine-metre-high growth towers, making it the largest vertical farm in the UK. A second phase is proposed to increase the growing area to 13,000 m2, increasing capacity to over 1,000 tonnes of crops each year.
The farm is expected to be fully operational in early 2023 as the first of OneFarm’s vertical farm hubs across the UK and will be retrofitted into an existing disused warehouse site. OneFarm is committed to producing crops sustainably and in an environment requiring no pesticides or herbicides with a vision to operate up 25 indoor vertical farms in the UK. With an emphasis on produce freshness and optimum quality, the new farm will grow a range of herbs and salads on-demand to avoid waste and unnecessary harvesting, with agreements already in place to supply selected retailers.
OneFarm’s senior team has extensive retail, investor crop science and research experience across the agritech and sustainability markets. The company’s vision focuses on evolving consumer expectations of high-quality produce, with an emphasis on provenance and a desire for more localised and sustainable supply chains to ensure greater food security for local populations.
A technology partner had to match this vision and have the capacity to evolve and scale in a highly competitive food production and retail market. The ambition, understanding and capability of IGS to evolve its systems in the future was a key differentiator for OneFarm.
Mira Merme, CEO of OneFarm commented: “Consumers deserve locally grown, fresh, good quality food, grown without pesticides and with low water usage, and OneFarm’s in-house brand, Wholly Food, provides just that, every day of the year. It’s truly local food for local people.
“With the IGS technology we will deliver those commitments to our customers and consumers alike. Its levels of flexibility to grow a wider variety of produce is superior to all other competitors and we believe that its dedication to product innovation will bring even greater benefits to our farms as we expand in the future. We are excited to be at the forefront of this fast-emerging sector, which we strongly believe will play an important role in the future of food production.”
IGS CEO, David Farquhar, commented: “OneFarm’s consumer-centric approach to growing and distribution reflects an evolving consumer desire – to really know and understand where their food is coming from and ensure availability and quality of produce. Across the world, the focus on environmental and economic sustainability has increased dramatically in recent years, accompanied by the imperative need for food security.
“OneFarm, Suffolk County Council and to New Anglia LEP are ambitious and forward-thinking, and steeped in both agritech and agricultural knowledge. We are very proud to have been selected to work alongside them to help deliver their combined vision.”
Iain Dunnett, Senior Growing Places Fund Coordinator at New Anglia LEP, commented: “The LEP recognises that OneFarm’s Newmarket development will make a significant contribution to our Clean Growth ambitions for the Eastern Region of the UK. The LEP is fully supportive of the farm business, a highly innovative development for the important agritech sector. The farm will contribute to the world-leading science and research base that exists in the East of England in relation to sustainable food production, land use and climate resilience.
“The LEP’s support for One Farm reflects its desire to make sustainable investments in the 21st century. The LEP will play a very positive role in promoting this investment opportunity alongside One Farm, Abundance, IGS and other partners.”