£25m project under way to build world's largest 'vertical farm'

Fischer Farms has started work on a £25m 'vertical farm' at the Food Enterprise Park at Easton

Fischer Farms has started work on a £25m 'vertical farm' at the Food Enterprise Park at Easton - Credit: Fischer Farms

Work has begun on a £25m project to build the world's largest "vertical farm" in Norfolk - aiming to blaze a trail for sustainable food production.

The site, currently under construction at the Food Enterprise Park at Easton, will create 25,000sqm of stacked growing space for salad leaves, herbs and other fresh produce for supermarkets.

Fischer Farms, the company behind the project, claims it will be able to produce the same amount of food in its four-acre building as would be possible on 1,000 acres of conventional British farmland. 

Fischer Farms has started work on a £25m 'vertical farm' in Norfolk - similar to its existing building in Lichfield

Fischer Farms has started work on a £25m 'vertical farm' in Norfolk - similar to its existing building in Lichfield - Credit: Fischer Farms

The climate-controlled building will be run entirely on renewable energy.

When completed in 2022, the firm says it will become the world's largest vertical farm, leading the way for a "scalable and more sustainable food production industry".

Fischer Farms chief executive, Tristan Fischer, said: “Our plans use the very latest vertical farming innovations, pioneering technology and 100pc renewable energy to enable us to farm more responsibly, sustainably and more productively in order to feed a growing population.

"As our production process is strictly controlled, we will also be able to guarantee a consistently higher quality, fresher tasting end product. 

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“Vertical farming enables us to be much more productive using less space. 

"We will do it without using pesticides, herbicides or insecticides. Our produce will be grown locally in the UK, it will stay fresher for longer with no need to rinse, there are no traceability issues and we will slash food miles with our shorter ‘farm to fork’ times.

Tristan Fisher, chief executive of Fischer Farms

Tristan Fisher, chief executive of Fischer Farms - Credit: Fischer Farms

"The volumes grown locally also mean we can produce food at price points comparable to field-grown crops too, and provide retailers with greater reliability of supply throughout the year, reducing the reliance on food imports and creating the potential for more local jobs.”

Fischer Farms already has one of the UK’s largest vertical farm operations in Lichfield. 

Its new Norfolk site will use data analytics tools to optimise its automated growing, harvesting and reseeding systems.

Fischer Farms has started work on a £25m 'vertical farm' at the Food Enterprise Park at Easton

Fischer Farms has started work on a £25m 'vertical farm' at the Food Enterprise Park at Easton - Credit: Fischer Farms

Energy-efficient and low-heat LEDs will allow the lighting to be placed very close to the tops of plants, enabling tightly-stacked vertical layers.

Over the next 10 to 15 years, Fischer Farms plans to scale up its operation to enable it to grow soya beans, rice and wheat "in significant volumes and at price points that compare favourably to global commodity prices".

Tightly-packed growing racks at Fischer Farms' vertical farm in Lichfield

Tightly-packed growing racks at Fischer Farms' vertical farm in Lichfield - Credit: Fischer Farms