Lettuce with LED lighting

First European Vertical Farm To Open in Holland

Soon, the lettuce in your salad may come from a so-called vertical farm. Vertical farming, growing fruit and vegetables in tall buildings without daylight, is on the rise around the globe. This year, the Dutch town Dronten will be home to the first European vertical farm. Staay Food Group is building a nine-story-building, in which their company Fresh Care Convenience will cultivate various types of lettuce.

Lettuce with LED lighting

Lettuce with LED lighting

Image: Staay Food Group

Climate chambers

Each floor in the flat will have specially designed climate chambers with LED lighting, which will produce 30,000 crops of rucola, lollo bionda, lollo rosso and curly endive a week. That’s twice as many crops as can be grown in traditional farms in a week, at a rate about 3 times as fast.

Staay Food Group is investing 8 million euros in the project. A large part of the costs is for special LED lighting. Philips is developing lights that change colours, to influence the taste and the vitamin count.

The first crops of lettuce will be processed by Fresh Care Convenience for ready-to-eat meal salads for the German market. They will hit Dutch supermarkets soon after.

Sustainable

Vertical farming has several advantages and is sustainable. With multiple floors to grow crops, a high-rise has a large surface area in a relatively small space. In a multi-floored building, all crops are sheltered from bad weather and insects, so farmers can grow them without insecticides.

Some vertical farms use a circular system, expanding their business with fish and adding fish farms to the building. The fish excrement is then collected and used to fertilize the vegetables.

The climate chambers in Dronten are energy efficient, using less water, electricity and fertilizer than traditional farming. They aim for CO2 neutral production.

City farming

The fact that high-rise buildings can be built in city centres is an added benefit. Fresh products can now be grown very close to the consumer. Which answers the increased demand for sustainable, locally grown products.