Jones Food Company - Vertical Farm

Source: Jones Food Company

Fresh British strawberries could soon be available to shoppers all year round – the result of a new vertical farming initiative

Berry Gardens, the UK’s largest supplier of berries and cherries, has partnered with Jones Food Company (JFC), owner of Europe’s largest indoor farm, to conduct trials into vertically grown strawberries.

If successful, the initiative would extend the British strawberry season, currently March to November, to 12 months a year, Berry Gardens said.

JFC will conduct the trial at its new R&D facility in Bristol, producing Berry Gardens strawberry varieties hydroponically – meaning the fruit will grow in vertical units in water, without soil. This removed the need for pesticide, used 95% less water than standard strawberry production and reduced food miles, Berry Gardens added.

While the first crop is not expected until winter 2023, retail customers had already expressed interest in stocking the vertically grown strawberries, the supplier said.

“Ensuring quality supply for our customers and allowing consumers to have delicious, fresh, healthy, British strawberries on shelves year-round are key priorities for us,” said Berry Gardens CEO Nick Allen.

The environmental benefits of vertical farming were “obviously really attractive too” he added. “Like most of the industry, we are actively looking for ways we can become more sustainable across our business and when technology offers realistic solutions, it is incumbent on us to pursue them with energy.”

JFC founder James Lloyd-Jones said: “This collaboration looks to get us to a point where UK consumers can buy fresh, homegrown strawberries from major retailers throughout winter and year-round. We know the demand is there, and we’re working hard to make it a reality.”