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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Benson

How a Tower Farm Increases Food Security for UK food businesses

The current food crisis in the UK, where supermarkets are unable to stock their shelves with a range of fruit and vegetables is a catastrophe of our own making. One that is only going to get far worse over the coming years if we stick to the way that we currently feed the country. We are on the precipice of a very dangerous position but with a change of mindset, we could turn this around to an extraordinary success. The hyper- local production of food is an answer- read on.

As much as we can cast our wand at the spectre that is Brexit, the current crisis is actually born out of many different factors.

For example, the Ukraine war and the subsequent increase in the cost of procuring nitrogen, alongside the considerable increase in the cost of electricity has seen a swathe of UK producers being affected this winter. Coupled with labour shortages and a wholesale lack of initiatives from the UK government- UK production has seriously impacted our ability to harvest our own produce.

The enormous elephant in the room though, which we are only now seeing the first effects from is global warming. Over the last 30 years, the UK has essentially done the complete opposite to what you would do if you were looking at a situation strategically with global warming front and centre.

Since 1997 the UK has reduced own domestic production of fruit and vegetables from 42% to 22% and has then moved its supply chain to countries that are deemed climate vulnerable- at serious peril of seeing crops wiped out due to catastrophic climate change.

We now import 1/3rd of all our produce from these countries. This has mainly been driven by the large supermarkets looking to put profit over sustainability on this never ending war on food prices.

We now find ourselves in the position of only producing 15% of the tomatoes consumed in the UK. Lettuce is a little better at 33%. Apples at 39% and mushrooms at 46%.

We have ripped out our orchards, turned our fields into housing and with DEFRA's current policy of 'rewilding' farmers are now incentivised to put their pastures back to nature rather than to produce the nation food.

So when the supermarkets blame the current lack of food on their shelves down to 'bad weather in Morocco and Spain' - we should

be highly concerned. If this is happening now, what is going to be the situation in 20 years time when the real impacts of global warming wreaks havoc on those same countries.

We have literally done the complete opposite of what the country did when preparing for war against a merciless enemy.

The last time this happened- the UK embarked upon a massive program of urban horticulture to help feed the nation.

My grandfather, being head horticulturist to Lloyd George was tasked with driving around the country setting up urban growing projects- literally anywhere it was possible. Football pitches were ripped up, everyones back garden was put to growing and the country was tasked with growing enough food to break the blockade that the German U-boats had on the country. It was a mammoth effort and made the country very nearly self sufficient in it's own food production.

Looking at where we were there and now, it's a completely different vista. The mindset of being able to source any product, at any time of the year has left a public used to getting what it wants whenever it wants it. To break this would be very challenging, so how can we find a mid-ground where we produce far more produce ourselves, efficiently and with minimum carbon miles.

The country is ripe for change. We need to bring production back to the UK.

For three years I have been looking at the hyper local production of foods- consumption as close to production as is possible as the key.

Producing foods, at considerable volumes, in the urban environment.

There are a number of different methods for this- be it traditional allotments to large vertical farms.

In our case, we see the considerable benefit of the TowerFarm system. It works as well on a pavement as it does in a fully specced greenhouse, in this case we are going to discuss the later.

Small businesses often struggle with the cost of fresh produce, which can be expensive and difficult to obtain. However, a Tower Farm, be it in a greenhouse, warehouse or growing seasonally outside, provides an innovative solution to this problem. By using this technology, small businesses can produce their own super fresh produce, and increase food security.

What is a Greenhouse Tower Garden?

A greenhouse Tower Farm is a vertical aeroponic growing system that allows plants to grow in a controlled environment. This technology is designed to provide plants with the necessary nutrients and conditions for optimal growth, regardless of the external environment. The Tower farm is a self-contained system that uses a pump to circulate water and nutrients to the plants, which are grown in a vertical tower. The Tower Farm is an ideal solution for small businesses, as it can produce a range of produce in a small space.

So much so it will produce plants in:

  • 950% more in the given area

  • Using 5% water that normal agriculture uses

  • Growing plants 3 times faster

  • and 30% larger.

How Does a Greenhouse TowerFarm Work?

A greenhouse Tower Garden works by using the principles of aeroponics. The Tower Garden is a self-contained system that includes a water pump, which circulates water and nutrients to the plants. The Tower Garden is also equipped with an aeroponic misting system, which sprays a fine mist of water and nutrients over the plants. This mist provides the plants with the necessary oxygen and nutrients for optimal growth. The plants are grown in a vertical tower, which allows for maximum use of space. The Tower Garden is an ideal solution for small businesses, as it can produce a range of produce in a small space.

The Benefits of a Greenhouse Tower Garden for Small Businesses

A greenhouse Tower Garden provides many benefits for small businesses. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Increased food security: By growing their own produce, small businesses can reduce their dependence on external suppliers and increase their food security.

  2. Super fresh produce: The Tower Garden provides a constant supply of super fresh produce, which is free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

  3. Increased profits: By growing their own produce, small businesses can reduce their costs and increase their profits.

  4. Improved health: Super fresh produce is packed with nutrients, which can help to improve the health of small business owners and their employees.

  5. Sustainable: The Tower Garden is a sustainable solution, as it uses less water and fewer pesticides than traditional farming methods.

What Can You Grow in a Greenhouse Tower Garden?

A greenhouse Tower Garden can produce a wide range of produce, including:

  1. Leafy greens: Such as lettuce, spinach, rainbow chard and kale.

  2. Herbs: Such as basil, mint, and thyme, corrianger, flat leaf parsley, many others.

  3. Fruits: Such as strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers, cucumbers, melons,

  4. Vegetables: Such as eggplants, and courgettes and many others

  5. Edible flowers and micro's- nasturtium, borage, viola etc

There is certainly no one thing that is going to solve this crisis. However, the low investment cost, the dynamic nature of growing soilless close to where people eat their foods and the low learning curve makes Tower Farming a piece of the jigsaw puzzle that needs to be recognised.

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