Welcome to the Wigan UTC Vertical Farm Blog.
Here you can keep up to date on everything that’s happening in the Wigan UTC Vertical Farm. We are growing Lettuce and Herbs on both a vertical conveyor belt as well as purpose built aquaponic units.
The farm was opened in August 2013 with a vision to promote urban agriculture in a pioneering way.
The Concept of vertical farming has been around since 1915 with a rising global population and more and more people choosing to live in cities and built up areas we are finding ourselves with more mouths to feed and less ground to grow food on. Vertical farming as the name suggests states that rather than expanding farms outwards why not conserve space and build our farms upwards. In modern horticulture many crops can now be grown in an artificial growing media (e.g. Rockwool or coir) as long as they have access to the necessary nutrients needed to grow and are kept at the correct Ph level. This means that without the need for soil there is nothing keeping us on the ground and we can now build farms on multiple levels and in more places. Previously crop production was restricted to areas that had the correct growing environment and enough soil for plants to root. However now we have the technology to grow what we want where we want it. Imagine being in the middle of a city and been able to walk in to a seemingly ordinary building to find on the first floor we have a fully functioning aquaponic unit providing fresh fish, take a walk upstairs and there are beds of lettuce being grown in water pumped up from the fish farm downstairs. The nitrates that the fish have produced downstairs that would pollute the tank they live in are now being converted in to nitrogen by the plants helping them to grow and saving on fertilizers required to produce a commercially acceptable plant. Take another flight of stairs and you find yourself in a hydroponic environment where tomatoes are being grown the environment completely controlled to suit the tomato meaning optimum crop growth and crops able to be planted and harvested 12 months a year so growers don’t have to stop producing and there are fresh local grown tomatoes all year round. One more floor and we find ourselves in a dark room being used for mushroom production the excess co2 produced by the mushrooms being pumped in to the tomato unit to help with photosynthesis. On the roof we find solar and wind power providing electricity for the building. Sound like a vision of the future? Well all the technology to build this exists now in 2014 we are now capable of building farms in cities able to provide fresh local grown food to its residents that hasn’t had to travel hundreds and in some cases thousands of miles to get there it’s possible that one day you will sit down in a restaurant and eat a meal that was grown upstairs directly above your head.
At the Wigan UTC Vertical Farm we are trying to make that vision a reality by growing crops in our vertical farm to be used downstairs in the food production facilities to create meals that haven’t had to travel to get here but where grown in the farm upstairs local produce as local as it can be.