Respond to BREXIT with Vertical Farming

Vertical farming can play a leading role in facing-up to the challenges faced by a post-Brexit rural economy according to the team behind the Tech Tyfu project.


Launching their latest recruitment drive for growers who are interested to “test drive” a vertical farming production unit, Dr Luke Tyler who leads the Tech Tyfu delivery shared how the innovative growing system can respond to the need for more local growing.


“A key part of the Tech Tyfu project is to facilitate better relationships and understanding across the fresh produce supply chain,” he explained. “We know that local chefs and distributors want to trade more local produce, and we know we have eager growers. Our challenge is to bring all these links together to make the chain work profitably.”


“Set against the current challenges and opportunities of Brexit, we think vertical farming offers a way to produce a range of fresh produce reliably, economically and to the highquality specification expected by customers.”


Tech Tyfu is a vertical farming pilot project for Gwynedd and Ynys Môn is looking to recruit growers for the second year. It can offer new growers a complete vertical farming unit for free for up to one year to learn about the technology and to trial their own market opportunities for crops such as speciality leaves, microgreens, pea shoots, watercress, strawberry and a range of oriental vegetables.


“Vertical farming is part of the solution to grow more of our own food, contributing to the circular economy and reducing our food miles,” explained Luke.


“We estimate the market for pea shoots is worth about £40-50k in Gwynedd and Ynys Môn alone,” noted Luke. “And by growing them locally, a grower would be able to offer unbeatable freshness. We have already had prominent local chefs asking where they could purchase local pea shoots.”


Last year, local grower James Hooton of Hooton’s Homegrown at Brynsiencyn, Ynys Môn successfully used the Tech Tyfu pilot kit to grow bags of watercress that were sold at his farmshop.


“We have been using hydroponics to cultivate crops for many years, such as with the tabletop strawberries you’ll see at our ‘pick-your-own’ site. However, this is the first time we’ve used a vertical farm system.” said James Hooton.


“The success of our Anglesey watercress’ proves that there is demand for fresh, local produce,” he added. Tech Tyfu are looking for two new growers for 2022. Each grower will be provided with a vertical farm unit, technical support and will join Tech Tyfu’s ongoing programme of workshops and webinars.


A Tech Tyfu event titled ‘Becoming a Vertical Farmer in 2021’, will be held virtually on Wednesday, 17th February, where the Tech Tyfu team will share information on opportunities available to work in partnership with the project. This will include a presentation by Chris Nelson, founder, and co-director of the famous London vertical farm, ‘Growing Underground’ and Managing Director of GrowStack.


“GrowStack came together in 2016 when we realised that the vertical farming market was about to explode. I look forward to sharing our experience of building a largescale bespoke vertical farm deep under-ground in London.” said Chris Nelson, who has worked in the industry for the last 40 years.


The virtual session is open for all, and anyone interested in the programme is encouraged to attend and register via the following link in advance.


“Do get in touch with us if you are interested in vertical farming,” said Luke. “E-mail me at luke@mentermon.com, have a look at our website www.techtyfu.com or connect via our Tech Tyfu Facebook page.”


TechTyfu has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.