Vertical farm developers seal deal on Suffolk site

OneFarm and IGS have joined forces to create 25 vertical farms across the UK

OneFarm and IGS have joined forces to create 25 vertical farms across the UK, the first of which is planned for a disused warehouse at Newmarket Business Park Picture: IGS - Credit: IGS

A multi-million pound vertical farm is due to be launched in an unused warehouse in Suffolk after the signing of a lease agreement.

The farm – which will be capable of producing 415 tonnes of food a year – is earmarked for a warehouse in Newmarket Business Park.

Construction work on the 6,400m sq farm – to be built by agritech specialists IGS Ltd and operated by OneFarm – will begin later this year, say those behind the project. A second phase is set to involve an area of 13,000m sq which would increase the overall farm capacity to 1,000t a year.

OneFarm says it is working alongside Suffolk County Council (SCC) and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to deliver the project.

Inside a vertical farm

OneFarm and IGS have joined forces to create 25 vertical farms across the UK, the first of which is planned for a disused warehouse at Newmarket Business Park Picture: IGS - Credit: IGS

The farm will be the first of 25 which Onefarm and IGS plan to deliver around the UK over the coming years and is expected to be operational by around May of next year.

The scheme has been funded by public and private investors and is part of the LEP’s “Clean Growth” ambitions for the region.

The first phase involves a growing area in nine-metre-high growth towers which will be retrofitted into the existing disused warehouse site. 

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The farm’s herb and salad crops will be produced sustainably, says OneFarm, with no pesticides or herbicides, with the aim of providing them on demand in order to avoid waste and unnecessary harvesting. Agreements are already in place to supply selected retailers, it says.

The focus will be provenance and to meet demand for more localised and sustainable supply chains, it adds. 

OneFarm chief executive Mira Merme said: “Consumers deserve locally grown, fresh, good quality food, grown without pesticides and with low water usage, and OneFarm’s in-house brand, Wholly Food, provides just that, every day of the year. It’s truly local food for local people.

“With the IGS technology we will deliver those commitments to our customers and consumers alike. Its levels of flexibility to grow a wider variety of produce is superior to all other competitors and we believe that its dedication to product innovation will bring even greater benefits to our farms as we expand in the future. We are excited to be at the forefront of this fast-emerging sector, which we strongly believe will play an important role in the future of food production.”

IGS chief executive David Farquhar said the focus on environmental and economic sustainability has increased dramatically in recent years – as has food security.

IGS chief executive David Farquhar

IGS chief executive David Farquhar - Credit: IGS

“OneFarm’s consumer-centric approach to growing and distribution reflects an evolving consumer desire – to really know and understand where their food is coming from and ensure availability and quality of produce,” he said.

“OneFarm, Suffolk County Council and to New Anglia LEP are ambitious and forward-thinking, and steeped in both agritech and agricultural knowledge. We are very proud to have been selected to work alongside them to help deliver their combined vision.”

Iain Dunnett, senior Growing Places Fund co-ordinator at New Anglia LEP, said: “The LEP recognises that OneFarm’s Newmarket development will make a significant contribution to our Clean Growth ambitions for the Eastern Region of the UK. 

“The LEP is fully supportive of the farm business, a highly innovative development for the important agritech sector. The farm will contribute to the world-leading science and research base that exists in the East of England in relation to sustainable food production, land use and climate resilience.

“The LEP’s support for One Farm reflects its desire to make sustainable investments in the 21st century. The LEP will play a very positive role in promoting this investment opportunity alongside One Farm, Abundance, IGS and other partners.”

Overall the two phases of the Newmarket scheme would extend to 19,400m sq. Another similar scheme by Fischer Farms taking shape at the Food Enterprise Park at Honingham near Norwich involves creating a 25,000sq m vertical farm to supply salad leaves, herbs and other fresh produce for supermarkets.