Container vertical farm developed to test indoor growth of exotic crops for high-value fragrance and flavours

CambridgeHOK has designed and built a bespoke container vertical farm for an international client to research the potential to grow exotic crops which produce high-value flavours and fragrances indoors.

The client, which has businesses worldwide and a base in the UK, commissioned the expert team at CambridgeHOK to build the 40ft container, which includes two dedicated growing areas and is able to operate at a wide range of available temperatures and humidity levels, to suit the crop growth research.

The container also includes specific irrigation and nutrition systems, allowing it to replicate open air environments, usually only found in tropical climates where the crops grow naturally.

Steve Edwards, Vertical Farming & Research Engineering Manager at CambridgeHOK, says it is an exciting project to be working on.

“The client in this case came to us knowing of our experience in the vertical farming sector. We have designed and built many successful commercial operations for more than a decade and it is this experience that has allowed us to construct a bespoke container farm to meet the client’s unique requirements,” he said.

“The challenging exotic climates that we needed to create were a new approach for us, as whilst we have worked on a range of climates, producing something for unique crops is very exciting.

“We looked at the most energy efficient way to achieve this and delivered a solution that is now growing exotic plants in the UK, in a way which will be commercially viable in the long term

“These crops are typically grown in open fields in their native countries, so it is potentially breaking new ground and establishing a new market to grow them fully indoors. It is all about testing and developing ways to grow the plants which produce oils of the highest quality and fragrance.

The client is now considering the viability of building a dedicated research and development facility near to the grower’s UK base, in the south of England, within the next two years.

“This is very much the starting point of what we see as a long-term partnership. The container is the first step in this journey.” added Mr Edwards.

CambridgeHOK has been proudly leading the field in UK Vertical Farming - and internationally - for more than a decade, having devised vertical farming systems since 2011, designing and constructing more than 10 large commercial-scale vertical farms.

Earlier this year, the firm launched a new ‘concept to completion’ package to provide investors and retailers with their own fully automated indoor growing facilities of 5,500sqm and above.

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