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Cultivating success: A collaboration between Gardin and GrowUp Farms

March 2024

Image Credit: GrowUp Farms

In the ever-evolving landscape of agriculture, two British trailblazers - Gardin, and certified B Corp GrowUp Farms - have come together to create a sustainable, climate-proof environment for growing in the UK. Gardin, a software, robotics, and data company, is dedicated to enhancing efficiency and quality for growers of protected crops. Meanwhile, GrowUp Farms, a cutting-edge vertical farm nestled in Kent, UK, is leading the way when it comes to producing longer-lasting, fresher, tastier locally grown salads every day of the year.

Gardin's mission is clear: to empower growers to improve productivity and quality of their produce. At the heart of their product lies an innovative optical sensor designed to measure photosynthesis and a suite of machine learning models that help Gardin make sense of plant growth. Gardin's sensors provide real-time insights about plant physiology, enabling growers to make informed decisions for higher yields and a more resilient food supply chain.

Gardin is not just a technology provider, it is a partner in the quest for sustainable and efficient agriculture.

GrowUp Farms' purpose is growing better food for all, and their achievements so far stand as a testament to innovation in vertical farming. The company, one of the global pioneers of vertical farming, began life 10 years ago when Kate Hofman met Tom Webster and they founded GrowUp Farms in a small unit in London. They combined new and existing technology to grow pesticide-free leaves that tasted better, lasted longer and reduced the environmental impact of getting healthy food onto people's plates. Within a short time, GrowUp Farms was supplying Borough Market and London restaurants with the salad they had grown in a controlled environment in their small London unit.

Fast forward 10 years and £100 million worth of investment, GrowUp Farms' sizeable vertical farm in Kent, is the first vertical farm to supply branded, award-winning ready-toeat salads to supermarket groups, including Tesco, Iceland and SPAR across the UK, which are grown in meticulously stacked vertical farming systems up to 13 metres high. This feat presents a technical challenge that demands ingenuity, precision, and a deep understanding of agricultural practice, manufacturing, and control systems. GrowUp Farms' commitment to delivering fresh, pesticide-free, and locally sourced salads, which are harvested, grown and packed all on the same site, sets a new standard in the industry.

GrowUp Farms has also cracked the biggest challenge in vertical farming – energy. They have made a big breakthrough at GrowUp Farms by ending their reliance on electricity and using renewable heating and cooling for most of their energy requirements supplied by the renewable energy plant next to the farm, which means they use far less electricity and their bills are lower.

Vertical farming, while revolutionary, poses unique challenges. The inaccessibility of the growing space and the potential risk of pathogen transmission by humans within this environment create obstacles to optimisation and monitoring. The need for a solution that can operate seamlessly within these constraints made Gardin ideally placed to help.

Gardin's systems are small, easy to install, and are capable of continuous monitoring. Using advanced techniques that detect changes imperceptible to the human eye, Gardin's sensors provide a comprehensive solution to monitor the production environment without disruption.

Gardin goes beyond remote monitoring by directly measuring photosynthetic performance. This capability delivers real-time feedback on plant productivity and health, allowing GrowUp Farms to optimise its growth strategy directly in the farm. The integration of Gardin's data into GrowUp Farms' operations provides actionable insights that contribute to enhanced crop yield and overall farm efficiency.

GrowUp Farms Chief Technology Officer Tom Webster underscores the significance of the insights produced by Gardin's system. "We identified correlations between Gardin's insights and yield, which will be an invaluable tool to optimise even further our production systems and facilitate the introduction of new crops to our portfolio."

Dr Fabrizio Ticchiarelli-Marjot, Gardin's Lead Biologist, who worked closely with Tom and the GrowUp Farms team said: "GrowUp Farms is playing a pivotal role in bringing fresh, pesticide-free, locally grown salads to British consumers. Not only do these salad brands – Unbeleafable and Fresh Leaf Co. – look and taste incredible, they also have a much longer shelf-life and are at price-parity with conventionally farmed salad. This marks a significant milestone in sustainable vertical farming, and we are excited to be part of it."

In conclusion, the collaboration between Gardin and GrowUp Farms exemplifies the power of technology and innovation to transform agriculture. This partnership is not merely a transaction but a shared journey towards a more sustainable and efficient future. As Gardin and GrowUp Farms continue to redefine industry standards, the impact on local and global food systems is undeniable. Together, they are cultivating success in the fields of technology, agriculture, and sustainability.

To learn more about how Gardin can help your farm, contact us www.gardin.ag/contact