Smartkas, a Dutch agtech enterprise that designs, builds, owns, and operates smart farms, is pleased to announce its partnership with BerryWorld, a soft fruit specialist.
Smartkas is growing the award-winning Eve's Delight variety from the Edward Vinson breeding programme on 12 vertical layers to deliver the best quality strawberries for consumers across the UK. Smartkas has drawn on BerryWorld's technical, varietal, and marketing expertise to bring this project to the UK market. Over the last 12 months, BerryWorld varieties have been trialed at Smartkas's R&D site in the Netherlands to ensure consistent quality will be achieved.
"Increasing consumer demand for locally grown strawberries means producing in the UK year-round has never been more important. Built over 12 layers and with the largest growing capacity in the UK, our vertical smart farm has the ability to support retailers throughout the year." said Dr. David Meszaros, CEO and Founder of Smartkas.
The UK relies on importing strawberries from overseas in the off-season. The Smartkas strawberries are harvested from their vertical smart farm in Harlow, Essex, to make a consistent year-round supply. Built over 12 layers - the same height as a four-storey building - and with over 27,000 sq. m. of growing space, it is the UK's tallest and highest-yielding vertical farm.
"Our partnership with BerryWorld marks a turning point in the UK's food supply chain and the way the country looks to secure locally grown year-round produce. Our Harlow farm uses artificial intelligence to control all aspects of the growing cycle, including light, water and CO2, to maximize the plants' growing potential. Being indoors protects the plants from adverse weather conditions. It allows us to create an optimal growing environment locally, resulting in a strawberry that not only tastes good but also makes environmental and economic sense," added Mark Kirby, Chief Commercial Officer at Smartkas.
"This project really answers the call for environmentally sustainable production in the heart of our urban landscape and brings Smartkas and BerryWorld's shared passion for quality and innovation closer to the consumer," said Paul Avery, Sales Director, BerryWorld.
"What makes Smartkas unique is its ability to create country-specific solutions to food security concerns. Located in close proximity to London, the Harlow-based farm uses renewable sources of energy and is only a short distance from retailers' distribution centers, meaning a lower carbon footprint."
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