A year of industry leading innovation

As we look ahead to the 2022 working year with excitement, joint managing director Patrick Harte takes a look back at some of the significant projects and developments for the Cambridge HOK team in 2021.

Multi-million pound Medical Cannabis Farm
We started building work on Scotland’s first legal medical cannabis farm in January, having being selected as lead construction partner for clients Hilltop Leaf Ltd.
The purpose-built, multi-million-pound facility, measuring 1.1 hectares and occupying a high-security site of the Scottish borders hills, has been backed by a host of investors from across the UK.
Work was completed in May.
Sheltered, free of pesticides and with an abundant clean water supply, the facility is situated in an ideal location for producing products that meet the EU’s rigorous GMP standards. It also has potential to harness renewable energy to power its operations.

First crop of strawberries at huge Dyson Farming facility
We made many a headline in 2020 thanks to our construction of the high-tech six hectares strawberry growing facility for Dyson Farming, and 2021 brought the fruits of our labour as the first strawberries were picked and distributed to supermarket shelves.
As the greenhouse is 424metres long, with 832 rows of strawberries, 700,000 strawberry plants will now produce 750 tonnes of strawberries each year for British consumers from the start of spring to late autumn.
We continue to provide support to the Dyson Farming team.

International investment and expertise from joining a global consortium
The business transferred to new ownership this year as Patrick Harte and Louis Bradley joined major new shareholders Atrium Agri, a global consortium of significant companies who lead in their field of experience.
The group provides unparalleled levels of technical skill across all aspects of horticultural engineering, serving an international customer base advanced horticultural solutions in almost every major market.
Being part of such an industry-leading, global group has already brought major advantages to the customers of CambridgeHOK.

New investment into HotBox International business
Following a surge in winter sales and the business having experienced no negative impact as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU, new investment was made into product development at our HotBox International business, which supplies products to commercial growers and amateur gardeners in more than 40 countries worldwide.
A new website was developed and launched, and Steve Edwards, who has more than 10 years’ experience of working in the horticulture sector and has designed and developed systems and solutions for universities, research organisations and commercial horticulture clients, was tasked with leading new product development.

Technical skills called upon as glasshouse specifically designed for high-tech plant science research
Our team were delighted to be called upon to build a new specialist glasshouse which provides research space for the Crop Science Centre – a coalition between NIAB and the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences.
They are working together to develop higher yielding and more climate resilient crops.
The glasshouse was specifically designed to enhance the speed of crop growth with high specification LED grow lighting systems, a high-pressure fogging system for humidity, mechanical cooling and forced air ventilation.

Apprenticeship programme launched to recruit technically-minded local graduates
We launched a new apprenticeship programme aimed at recruiting ambitious young people locally. Initial roles offered included junior estimators to join the estimating team, ideal for graduates in science, engineering, maths and built environment.
The scheme was developed as the business is keen to bring in young people who are enthusiastic and have great ideas to develop their careers.
Ultimately we want the next board of directors to come from within the business and we feel this is a key programme to help us achieve this.

£7m glasshouse constructed to aid bespoke and patented strawberry growing system
Our team designed and built a 5.5 hectares bespoke glasshouse to enable Berry Farming to use a new tiered growing system, developed for strawberries.
The project was taken from concept to completion and fully operational within eight months
We designed the glasshouse, using specialist glazing, to ensure light coming into the facility was able to travel as far as possible and reach all the plants on a tiered growing system, and was evenly distributed across the site. Our dedicated construction division completed all building civils, including access roads, laydown areas, drainage and foundations for the site heat storage tank.
A gas boiler, running off Liquid Natural Gas due to the site’s location being too far away from existing supply lines, was built and sited, and our teams also installed an innovative irrigation, filtration and sterilisation system to allow rainwater to be harvested and collected from boreholes, and then flushed through the entire system and reused.

As you can see, our team have had a very productive and successful 2021. We have big plans for the Vertical Farming market in 2022, and having secured a number of new contracts recently, we look forward to working with many more great businesses and organisations over the coming 12 months.

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