Frontrunner in vertical farming takes next step in mission towards sustainable food supply.
As their most recent press release, Leerdam (Netherlands) based indoor farmers, Glowfarms are expanding their production capacity with a new facility considered as ‘the most advanced vertical farm in Europe’ using the company approach to cultivating crops with a conveyer-belt. Driven by a mission to make food supply more sustainable, both in terms of respecting the environment and meeting supply chain demand, the two founders vow to provide a solution meeting today’s challenges.
Glowfarms Recipe for success
The recipe for success lies in Glowfarms’ unique cultivation method: an advanced conveyer belt that takes lettuce and herbs on a journey moving up and down until the plants are ready to harvest: after about 23 days for lettuce and 35 for herbs. Along the way, crops are provided with the required warmth, light, and moisture. Using 6-meter tall towers to save floor space, this technique enables to use of 95% less water, no pesticide, no impact on land, and lower CO2 emissions compared to traditional agriculture. Sustainable and healthy, and with the advantage of being independent of the weather or the seasons, resulting in a stable price and quality all year round.
Glowfarms is scaling up from a modest pilot farm of 110 square meters in Hoorn, North-Holland, to no less than 2700 square meters in Leerdam, Utrecht. With the pilot, Glowfarms has proved it can deliver the required yield and quality to make this manner of vertical farming profitable on a larger scale, incorporating all practical experience with technology, efficiency, and growth process from the pilot into the new farm. The scale-up means literal growth, too: while the pilot comprised one conveyer-belt, the new indoor farm has space for eight, much larger, belts, together capable of yielding 1,000 kilos of lettuce and herbs per day. With twenty employees, this young company aims to work towards a fully automated process for growing crop from seeds.
Glowfarms not only grows food, it also grows opportunities. The scale-up is the sum of ideals, ambitions, and steady entrepreneurship. Founders are Ben Pieterse (27) and Luc de Vries (26). Ben studied Sustainability and Management and acquired first-hand experience with indoor farming in the Netherlands and abroad. Luc holds a bachelor in Sustainable Development and a masters degree in Finance, working as an M&A consultant afterwards. Together, they formed Glowfarms’ mission: to make sustainable impact in the food sector.
“Change is much needed, the current system is failing. The world’ growing population, climate change, and soil depletion will give rise to enormous challenges for global food security,” says Ben. “So much comes together in vertical farming: saving land, resources. Feeding more mouths, because of the higher yield per square meter. Pesticides are no longer necessary. We also contribute to reducing food waste and shortening chains. We dream of buying up the square miles we save and giving it back to nature.”
The two young entrepreneurs want to roll out their concept worldwide. “Plant-based food is the future,” says Luc. “Our ambition is to set up farms all over the world: the next one could very well be built abroad. In addition to building farms, we also want to enable parties to use Glowfarms technology as a service in the future.”