Making fresh produce affordable is the aim of Crop Cycle, an innovative social-impact vertical farming project that brings together four leading companies – LettUs Grow, GrowStack, Digital Farming and Farm Urban – to collaborate in delivering four projects in Wales.
Vertical farming is a way of growing crops indoors on stacked shelves, and can be beneficial for people, plants and the planet. It allows growers to provide fresh, healthy produce to their local area 365 days of the year and can help to supplement outdoor growing. It diversifies our supply chains and boosts local food security. It also has a long stream of environmental benefits, such as using fewer resources including land or water, removing the use of chemical pesticides and reducing the need to transport food across seas. However, a common criticism of vertical farming is that it’s not always accessible or affordable to areas under-served by our food networks.
Crop Cycle is looking to bring the benefits of vertical farming directly to communities who could benefit most and is being funded by the Welsh Government through the Foundational Economy Challenge Fund.
Charlie Guy, co-founder and CEO of LettUs Grow, said about the collaborations: “LettUs Grow is delighted to be working alongside these leaders of the UK vertical farming ecosystem and inspiring community projects. We believe a brighter future can only be realised with inclusive partnerships and strong cooperation, built on shared values and a vision which places people and the planet at its epicentre.”
The project will introduce year-round food growing right into the heart of Welsh communities, where they’ll be connected to the particular dynamics of the local area. Activities will test new community-based engagement models, focusing on social well-being, local entrepreneurship and environmental impact. In this way, the project will be bringing together community, businesses and local public sector organisations.
Two CEA systems, provided by LettUs Grow and Digital Farming, are being integrated into an active college site and managed by a community group, with a cafe and kitchen, shop, deli and veg box scheme in place. The site is supported by Cultivate, a membership cooperative linking food and community.