Renovated warehouse earmarked for large-scale vertical farm project

Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) producing crops grown indoors

OneFarm is proposing to create one of the largest vertical farms in the UK at Newmarket Business Park Picture: ONEFARM - Credit: OneFarm

Plans to convert a warehouse in Suffolk into a large indoor vertical vegetable farm have been boosted by a major £2.5m loan through New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

OneFarm plans to create one of the largest vertical farms in the UK at Newmarket Business Park.

The first phase of the project would involve producing an estimated 415 tonnes of vegetables a year from 6,400sq m of indoor vertical growing space.

The interior of a warehouse in Newmarket

A warehouse at Newmarket which is set to house a vertical farm - Credit: OneFarm

Another similar scheme by Fischer Farms taking shape at the Food Enterprise Park at Honingham near Norwich involves creating 25,000sq m of stacked growing space for salad leaves, herbs and other fresh produce for supermarkets at a £25m vertical farm which is being built there.

The Newmarket scheme has been boosted by a loan from the LEP’s Growing Places Fund. OneFarm is seeking to raise up to £6.7m for the development after launching an investment offer via regulated ethical investment crowdfunding platform Abundance Investment.

The proposed home for the vertical farm has recently been renovated and fitted with solar panels.

An IGS growth tower with lights on

An Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) growth tower of the sort proposed for a warehouse in Newmarket under OneFarm's proposals - Credit: OneFarm

The vertical farming method involves indoor “growth towers” which produce food on a fraction of the land needed for conventional farming.

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OneFarm’s plan is to use precise climate control and LED lighting to create a reliable environment to grow crops all year – without being hampered by weather.

Iain Dunnett of New Anglia LEP

Iain Dunnett of New Anglia LEP - Credit: New Anglia LEP

LEP Growing Places Fund senior co-ordinator Iain Dunnett said: “The LEP is fully supportive of this project, which it views as a highly innovative development for our important agri-tech sector. The farm will also 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 resilience.

“Our support for OneFarm reflects our desire to make sustainable investments in the 21st century and we will play a very positive role in promoting this investment opportunity, alongside OneFarm, Abundance, and other partners.”

Vertical farming is taking off in countries including the US, Germany and France – and there are some small schemes in the UK with larger ones in development.

New Anglia LEP has invested £1m in the Food Enterprise Park and its Food Innovation Centre in Norfolk, which is currently under construction, and was part-funded with £2.7m from the government’s Getting Building fund and £1.44m from the LEP’s Growing Places fund.

OneFarm Ltd directors Mira Merme, Brian Coleman, Dr Rudy Maor, Chris Whitehead-Collett and Arindam Basu said they spent five years researching ways of producing more food using fewer resources. The Newmarket scheme would be their first, they added in a letter to potential investors. The business’s parent company is OneFarm BV which is based in the Netherlands.

The project’s technology partner is Intelligent Growth Solutions Ltd based in Scotland.