Dry weather sees Evesham vertical farm's produce demand soar

  • In Science
  • 2022-10-05 05:31:59Z
  • By BBC
The vertical farm
The vertical farm  

A vertical farm owner said demand for its produce is "through the roof" after weather conditions affected harvests.

Joe Pilade runs Valefresco in Evesham, where salad is grown stacked on top of each other in a controlled environment.

He said the extreme heat over the summer had left crops grown outside being "hit and miss" when it came to harvest.

Growing his crop inside means produce can be grown all year round with fewer pesticides.

"I've been growing salad since I was a little boy," he said.

"Obviously previously we were growing in open fields and subject to difficult weather conditions impacting quality and now with this protection and system of growing we can control the growth of the plants."

The vertical farm
The vertical farm  

Temperatures in the UK reached a record-breaking 40C in July and with droughts following, crops have suffered.

At Mr Pilade's farm, he is able to use recycled rainwater and control the light and temperature to protect his plants from unpredictable weather.

It means the farm will be able to produce up to two million heads of leafy greens each year.

"We've seen the change in our weather conditions and how that's affecting the quality in the open field," Mr Pilade said, citing water shortages and land viability.

"Our plants are fed exactly the right nutrients that they need to grow and to give the flavour that we're looking for."

The site cost millions of pounds to open, however Mr Pilade believes it is the "future" of farming to overcome such issues in the face of global food shortages, exacerbated by climate change and the war in Ukraine.

"We've got our own little part to play in keeping the customers fed," he said.

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