William Benson, managing director of Seedleaves

East Yorkshire firm to build 'vertical greenhouse'

High-tech East Yorkshire horticultural specialist CambridgeHOK is to build a specialist ‘vertical glasshouse’ in an innovative project which will see thousands of leafy greens, fruiting crops and culinary fungi grown to supply an onsite restaurant, food hall, cookery school and local businesses.

The unique project, for Hampshire-based business Seedleaves.com, will see plants housed in a dedicated 480 sq m glasshouse facility designed by CambridgeHOK, growing in 210 towers which each stand close to three metres high.

Having been in the planning stages for more than two years, the project has now been granted planning permission, with work to start on phase one – the building of the specialist glasshouse - in the New Year.

Seedleaves are approved UK suppliers and installers of Tower Farms – a growing system pioneering the expansion of both small and large urban farms worldwide. Until now it has focussed mainly on supplying growing towers and hydroponic seedlings to individuals, as well as building three other Tower farms in the UK.

Their own project, at Applegarth Farm in Grayshott East Hampshire, will include 210 towers each growing more than 40 plants – producing a broad range of fresh lettuce, herbs, edible flowers, tomatoes, strawberries and micro herbs. The plants will be grown aeroponically, which means with only water and nutrients and using just 5 PER CENT of the water used while growing in soil.

Alongside the towers, a unique space will specialise in producing a range of culinary and medicinal fungi, such as Lions mane, and supply both consumers and restaurants. This new and innovative approach to food production has seen a surge in popularity in other areas of the world, notably in the Middle East, the US and Europe.

There are now 300 tower farms around the world, in 50 different countries, using little space or energy – making them ideal for rooftop spaces – and requires just 5 per cent of the water normal agriculture does. It also requires no pesticides or fertilisers.

William Benson, managing director of Seedleaves, believes the development could kick-start many similar projects in the UK. “This is a really exciting project and one we believe can lead the way in the UK in terms of hyper-local production of food in urban environments,” he said.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of people watching the success of this project as it will demonstrate how food of the highest quality can be grown in places with limited space, in the most efficient and green way as there are no high energy costs either.

Alan Frampton, sales manager at CambridgeHOK, which is based in Newport, East Yorkshire, has been working with Seedleaves for the past two years preparing and planning the project. The ‘vertical greenhouse’ is the first step of the journey, with a target completion date of next May.

Seedleaves has spent the past year perfecting this all-natural method of growing and Mr Benson intends to also provide educational tours and lessons with the aim of empowering the local community to start growing their own fresh produce within their businesses, or at home.

“We’ve done a lot of work to get to this stage and I have to say the support of CambridgeHOK and Alan could not have been better. Alan has been here so many times going through the plans and making tweaks to the designs to make sure we have everything right” added Mr Benson.

By Mark Adair – Correspondent, Bdaily

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