Plans to build more than 40 vertical farms across the UK over the next five years have been unveiled by Edinburgh-based Shockingly Fresh.
The start-up enterprise claims such production units will be capable of growing up to five times the amount of greens currently possible with traditional farming methods.
The business is developing five sites countrywide, one of which is in Scotland, with the aim of creating low-cost, naturally-lit units, using hydroponic towers to grow multiple crop cycles of leafy vegetables, such as salads and herbs.
The company’s directors believe the increased yields from their farms will help British growers boost crop production and reduce the UK’s reliance on costly off-season imports from the EU.
They also say the enclosed environment in which they will be operating will mean less pesticides being required to produce “cleaner crops”.
“We have identified a significant market – particularly around the early and late season shoulder months – which is currently filled by imported crops from Europe,” said Garth Bryans, chief operating officer at Shockingly Fresh.
“With our system we can significantly extend the shoulder months and offset the need for early and late season imports – plus we can bring in heating to extend the season further if the market is there.”
Having already secured rights to five UK sites, covering just under 125 acres, the company has now launched an investment round to raise new funding to kick start its expansion over the next five years.
“Our funding round will enable us to secure and develop more than 40 sites in the UK,” added Mr Bryans.
“We are keen to speak to brownfield site owners as well as traditional agricultural land holders.”