Somerset-based indoor vertical farm FlexFarming is redefining the future of fresh food production with its 500m2, 10-ton strawberry production facility.
The facility has produced its first crop of Class 1 strawberries, with the quality being verified by a large UK supermarket. It is setting out to grow and supply quality British strawberries to the mainstream UK market all year round using sustainable growing methods and CEA.
Picking a batch of strawberries
Strawberries currently dominate the UK berry growing market, but outside of British summertime, the majority of produce available to consumers is imported from abroad. FlexFarming is leading the way by offering a totally controlled concept that nurtures conditions to create the ideal growing environment in which strawberries can thrive. With CEA, the constraints of conventional farming can be avoided thanks to a technology-based approach that can achieve a higher yield and quality of produce 365 days a year.
The company was established in 2021 following successful early-stage trials and £2.5 million in funding from Innovate UK to build the vertical farm and prove its concept. The team is headed up by smart energy entrepreneur Ahmad Mohseni, CEO of Brits Energy.
FlexFarming Exterior Building 2
Ahmad Mohseni, FlexFarming CEO, comments on the industry challenges: “At FlexFarming, we understand the challenges associated with the current supply methods, which is why we’re working on a solution that addresses the supply issues. With CEA, we can decouple the production from the season and shorten the supply chain. Our FAB solution works to integrate the farm operation with the energy system to tap into the unused available capacity and consequently reduce clean energy costs. Our work marks the way forward for the farming sector by providing sustainable solutions that the entire industry can learn from.”
Strawberries thrive in the indoor vertical farm
After studying different energy procurement mechanisms, the team formed its Farm as a Battery (FAB) concept. The solution identifies flexible energy demand opportunities and uses them to enhance the resource efficiency of onsite energy systems by understanding the flexibility the strawberry crop has in its growth cycle.
FlexFarming has built a business model that puts sustainability at the forefront and seeks to tackle the high CapEx and OpEx costs associated with indoor farming. With this, it can work towards achieving a highly efficient net-zero strawberry production system to reduce its environmental impact. The team is currently reducing carbon emissions by using renewable energy sources and exploring additional ways to offset its carbon footprint going forward.
Admiring strawberries in the FlexFarming grow room
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