The young vertical farming company Glowfarms has made the leap from small to large. Just like their plants. And just as sustainable. In fact, thanks to their unique cultivation technique - a conveyor belt that moves up and down - their new indoor farm in Leerdam will soon be one of the most advanced vertical farms in Europe. Thanks to the fresh entrepreneurial approach of young, idealistic twentysomethings who proudly call themselves 'the farmers of the future.'
Luc de Vries and Ben Pieterse.
The recipe for success lies in Glowfarms' specific cultivation method: via an advanced conveyor belt, lettuce and herbs make a journey from the bottom to top - a green, slow-motion roller coaster ride, in fact - until they are ready for harvest: some 23 days for lettuce and 35 for herbs. The technique is worthy of the name vertical farming: the conveyor belt rises six meters into the air, saving a considerable number of square meters. The plants are optimally supplied with warmth, light, and moisture along the way.
Glowfarms is scaling up from a modest pilot farm of 110 square meters in Hoorn to no fewer than 2700 square meters in Leerdam. The pilot phase has proven that Glowfarms can deliver the required yield and quality to make this method of vertical farming both large-scale and profitable. All the practical experience with technology, growing processes, and efficiency gained from the pilot is now being applied on a larger scale. And the upscaling is literally a big one: where there was only one conveyor belt in the pilot project, the new indoor farm has room for eight much larger conveyor belts, which together can produce 1,000 kilos of lettuce and herbs per day. With twenty employees, the young company is working towards a fully automated process in which seeds grow into plants.
At Glowfarms, not only plants grow, but also opportunities. The scale-up is the sum of ambitions, down-to-earth entrepreneurial spirit, and ideals. The founders are Ben Pieterse (27 years old) and Luc de Vries (26 years old). Ben studied sustainability and management and gained experience at indoor nurseries at home and abroad. Luc graduated in sustainability and finance and gained work experience in the financial world. Together they formed the mission of Glowfarms: to make a sustainable impact in the food sector. "Change is very much needed. The current system is failing. Due to the growth of the world population, the depletion of the soil, and climate change, the food supply will eventually become a major problem," says Ben. "So much comes together in vertical farming: saving land and raw materials. We dream of buying up the square meters of farmland we save and giving them back to nature."
The young entrepreneurs want to expand their concept worldwide. "Plant-based food is the future," says Luc. Our ambition is to set up farms all over the world. The next farm could be abroad. We do not only want to build farms ourselves but also enable parties to use the Glowfarms technology as a service.
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Luc de Vries, co-founder
Ben Pieterse, co-founder