Vertical farming is an amazing solution that allows us to grow fresh produce using a fraction of the water and land that traditional agriculture requires. That said, most vertical farms need a lot of heating and artificial light.
The use of 100 percent natural light is what sets Shockingly Fresh’s giant vertical farm in Offenham, Worcestershire apart. The farm, which is the largest naturally-lit vertical farm in Britain, has recently begun harvesting thousands of leafy greens, herbs, and strawberries that will soon make their way to supermarkets all over the nation.
Just like other vertical farms, they need much less water for far greater yields than traditional field farming. However, the fact that they use natural light means that their process isn’t as carbon-intensive as their LED-lit counterparts.
What happens in the winter season?
During the winter months, Britain doesn’t get much sunlight, which means that, unlike most hydroponic farms, yields vary throughout the year, with fewer crops grown in the winter. However, this shouldn’t be seen as a downside. According to Nick Green, the development director of Shockingly Fresh, “production isn’t completely linear as it would be in a fully lit vertical farm. But we do match the consumption pattern of people—people don’t eat as much lettuce in winter as they do in summer.”
Plus, seasonal fruits such as strawberries can still be cultivated within Shockingly Fresh’s vertical farm, which will help reduce imports. “It is ultimately better for the environment. I can’t say it’s carbon-neutral but it isn’t as carbon hungry as an LED vertical farm would be,” Green adds.
Shockingly Fresh’s next steps
Shockingly Fresh hopes to build 40 more naturally lit vertical greenhouses, with their next one planned for West Calder in Scotland. This one is set to be even larger, and may just become the UK’s biggest vertical farm.
Hydroponic and other vertical farms are becoming an important area of interest as the world reconsiders the ways in which we should be using our land. Other companies worth mentioning include Growing Underground, which makes micro greens and salad leaves underneath the bustling streets of Clapham, and LettUs Grow in Bristol, which, as the name suggests, produces lettuce and other leafy greens.