Kate Hofman, Founder and Chief Brand Officer of the first UK vertical farm in the UK to supply supermarkets with a branded salad product attended Rishi Sunak’s Farm to Fork Summit at 10 Downing Street on 16th May 2023 and says she urged the government to extend the sustainable farming incentives to Vertical Farms – which are playing a crucial part in making the UK more self-sufficient in food production.
GrowUp Farms, which grows salad crops commercially all year round in perfect conditions in its farm in Sandwich, Kent, was the only Vertical Farm invited to the summit, at which industry experts discussed the rising cost of food, labour shortages, and the UK’s dependence on overseas for its food.
Other attendees included Chris Butler, Managing Director of Thanet Earth, Florian Richter, Founder of Muddy Machines, and Simon Pearson from Lincoln University.
“The UK relies on importing 67% of the salad we eat each year, and over 90% in the winter, and UK salad production is at its lowest point in 40 years,” says Kate Hofman, “and our dependence on other countries for vegetable crops and other produce inevitably plays a part in the rising cost of food prices for the consumer in the UK.”
“I was very happy to be invited, as a pioneering vertical farm, because it demonstrates that the Government is starting to understand how vertical farmers can be part of the solution to a range of challenges domestic food production is facing. Using less water, less nitrogen, producing less waste and with zero agricultural runoff and no pesticides, vertical farming could enable England to meet its Environmental goals much more quickly. What we now need is a level playing field for all producers of high quality food that delivers positive environmental impact so that we can produce even more sustainable and affordable food for shoppers.”
Pepperness, GrowUp Farms’ commercial-scale vertical farm in Kent, represents a £100m investment, will support over 80 high-skilled sustainable agricultural jobs, and produces environmentally friendly fresh produce year-round in the UK.
Their crops are grown using renewable energy, and as a registered B Corp, combating climate change and having a positive impact on the planet, is at the heart of everything GrowUp Farms does.
GrowUp Farms has achieved an industry first with the launch of a salad brand grown in the UK all year in a vertical farm. Fresh Leaf Co is affordable and lasts longer than other bagged salads, mainly due to the way it is grown.
It combines its innovative farming technology with renewable energy. This is cheaper and more efficient and means GrowUp Farms is not affected by the labour shortages and gas prices squeezing greenhouse and conventional farmers in the UK.