Could indoor plant factories be the norm in 10 years?

The Jones Food Company (JFCo) 's CEO, James Lloyd-Jones, predicts that within 10 years, the UK could be growing all its herbs, salad leaves, soft fruits – and potentially cut flowers – this way: "Vertical farms will become the norm within the supply chain, and probably take away greenhouse production and imports."

The seeds of this revolution are being sown – in vertically stacked layers of sheep's wool – at JFCo's innovation center in Bristol. Lloyd-Jones said: "Vertical farming can grow anything. It just grows lots of things too expensively to be commercially viable, so here is where we are learning how to commercialize it."

Farming this way could have numerous advantages. "One of the big benefits is that we're growing in a way that doesn't impact nature," said Charlie Guy, cofounder of LettUs Grow, a Bristol-based company that's developing technology for vertical farms. "It also means we can focus more of our land on things like tree planting. So, from a biodiversity standpoint, there are massive benefits."

Another benefit is consistency in the produce itself. "Vertical farming allows you to grow things with a very consistent appearance and flavor, which means they can be packed more efficiently, and there's less waste because fewer of the items are unattractive to supermarket buyers," said Prof Antony Dodd at the John Innes center, a research hub in Norwich.

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