Members of the Lords Horticultural Sector Committee visited pioneering Kent-based vertical farm, GrowUp Farms, in Sandwich recently to find out about how vertical farming will play a key role in the future of farming.
Lord Carter, Lord Colgrain, Lord Coles, Baroness Fookes, Lord Redesdale and Baroness Walmsley visited the farm – called Pepperness – which is leading the charge in vertical farms in the UK as it was the first to sell its salad ranges through UK supermarkets.
The House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee was created in April this year to produce a report on the horticultural industry. A 12-strong committee from all parties including crossbenchers is considering the challenges faced by the sector, which is worth billions to the UK economy and is a significant contributor to UK food security.
GrowUp Farms is the UK’s leading vertical farm, and launched its Unbeleafable salad range in Tesco stores in July this year. Pepperness grows the salad without the need to use pesticides of any kind, nor does it need chlorine-washing, in fact the salad doesn’t need to be washed at all before eating – all processes which degrade the quality of the leaves. The supply chain is significantly reduced, so the salad only travels from Kent to UK supermarkets, rather than from overseas. It tastes fresher and crisper and lasts longer than other salads, which means there’s less waste produced too.
“We’re very proud of what we are achieving here at Pepperness, and the part we’re playing in the future of food security for the UK” said Kate Hofman, founder and Chief Brand Officer of GrowUp Farms. “Currently the UK imports around 67% of its salad from warmer climates, and this rises to 90% in the winter*, so vertical farms can help the UK to be more self-sufficient in producing food.”
“We were delighted to welcome the House of Lords Horticultural Sector Committee to Pepperness, and we very much support the inquiry into the considerable challenges facing this sector, not least the effects of climate change.
Lord Redesdale, Chair of the Committee, said: “Horticulture is worth billions to the UK economy. From healthy fruit and vegetables to the multitude of crop and plant varieties that can be grown in the UK, it is a fundamental component of a secure food supply, supports the wellbeing of millions of people, and could provide innovative solutions to the challenges presented by climate change. Despite this, horticulture has been continually overlooked and undervalued.
“As part of our inquiry, we were delighted to visit Pepperness and see how GrowUp Farms is putting real innovation into practice to build resilience into the UK horticulture sector.”