Growing Underground is a pioneer operation in so many ways. It is built in an extremely difficult and challenging environment 33 metres underground in the centre of London, and is a full scale successful commercial vertical farm growing a range of micro herbs and baby leaf products.
This project brought the GrowStack team together as we were all considered experts and innovators in our own specialist areas. To replicate conditions and have “room” to experiment, we built mock-up tunnels in greenhouses, engineered, and fabricated the system structures, the irrigation, and growing systems, inclusive of designing practical water storage systems because nothing could be more than three metres in length.170 steps down, everything had to be designed to be manoeuvrable and to accommodate inhospitable working conditions. We built a fully functioning 20-metre section as an initial trial.
Chris became a founding Director of Growing Underground and once proven, the fully bespoke built-to-fit system was created and installed over a period of 6 weeks – albeit very challenging - especially when it came to installing hydroponic ebb and flood systems in 4x levels in long thin tunnels.
This was a full consultancy project where we assisted with recruitment of staff, training, servicing and the growing of around 20 different crops – we even identified innovative growing mediums via the use of 90% wool carpet offcuts by unpicking and reknitting together as compostable matting – this being fully recyclable.
We helped to identify outlets for produce and started with New Covent Garden before moving into the Supermarket arena.
The LEDs used were Valoya tubes that allowed the bench system to be very close together, therefore maximising the space and the production from the amount of floor space available.
Stockbridge Technology Centre
Dubbed “The Farm of the Future”, GrowStack created a state-of-the-art commercial scale vertical farm for the research and technology transfer centre at Stockbridge in Yorkshire. Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC) has been a pioneer in experimental and applied horticulture research since the 1950s. Since its inception, STC has acted as a bridge between academia and commerce, sharing valuable research and insight that has helped to revolutionise farming practice in the UK.
The unit is a 4x multilevel ebb and flood system in two rooms, giving a total of 228m² of growing area, and is lit with GE balanced LEDs for optimum plant growth. The whole system is controlled by the very latest Priva environmental computer with a multitude of sensors and mapping. The system also has a fully recirculating two-tank hydroponic feed and irrigation unit.
The building has a full HVAC system to ensure optimum growing conditions 24 hours a day all year round and has been designed to be a full-scale commercial unit to allow growers to test out their crops and ideas before embarking on large scale investment and builds.
From the success of obtaining an Innovate UK grant, Liberty commissioned GrowStack to design and build a 3x container growing unit for research and trials.
Liberty Produce is a farming technology company, enabling the growth of local produce year-round, using a fully controlled, industry-leading, indoor vertical farming system.
Designed to compare systems within hydroponics - The state-of-the-art growing facility contains 3 growing systems: (1) A Nutrient Film Technique (NFT); (2) ebb and flood; and (3) deep water culture.
“We started working with the awesome GrowStack on the build of the system and they promptly ordered the shipping containers for the build which began in January. After this work was completed, the containers were returned to GrowStack’s HQ in North Yorkshire where the work of turning our three steel boxes into a vertical farm, really began. We were building a cutting-edge future-proofed system that would set the template for revolutionising the industry. Building a vertical farm is a complex process and the details matter. The farm was built in partnership with GrowStack in Yorkshire and needed to be transported 300 miles north to the Hutton in Dundee once complete.”
“The James Hutton Institute has welcomed the location of CHAP’s IHCEA and Liberty Produce’s Future Farming Hub in Invergowrie, in the context of the Institute’s drive for the establishment of Open Science campuses at its sites and this has been facilitated by the creation of the Advanced Plant Growth Centre at Invergowrie as part of the Tay Cities Deal.”
This demonstrates the flexibility of GrowStack’s design and build ingenuity along with highlighting our experience in developing ideas with and for our clients.
Space 10 (Ikea)
Space 10 from Copenhagen used 4 of our systems to create a pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch in September 2017. This attracted large numbers of people and was a great success for bringing fresh salads to the customer instantly. Customers were able to choose a salad mix or micro herbs instantly from the display to form a salad or to be added to a sandwich.
This project demonstrated the visual effect and the excitement generated by the customers knowing that the salad was so fresh and tasty.
“Throughout the week, we gave visitors an opportunity to see the farm for themselves, to experience a range of appetising workshops, and to taste our nutritious microgreens.Delicious ingredients right where they’re grown. Because the closer the better, both for people and the planet, it soon attracted a steady stream of potential diners, from peckish passers-by to gourmand guests attending our daily events in the studio next door.
What they saw was the technology that makes hydroponic farming possible — the vertically stacked trays containing nutrient-enriched water, LED lights and computerised automation — plus the nutritious greens themselves, of course. We also witnessed people’s interest in and fascination with the hydroponic system that produced the microgreens. Through the Farm, we want to explore how we can produce more food with less and in a more sustainable way than today.”