Horticulture and hospitality students at Peterborough Regional College, in collaboration with Local Roots Limited, have set up a small version of a new vertical farming system, VydroFarm, recently launched by hydroponics innovator HydroGarden. Led by sustainability experts Dr Ian Tennant and Gloria McNeil, Local Roots Limited provides expertise and a fully serviced solution to allow caterers and organisations to grow their own food on site.
Installed in the College’s on-site restaurant, the horticultural department will participate in a two to three month trial to grow fresh ingredients that can be used in the College’s Parcs Restaurant, before the system is relocated to other local establishments. VydroFarm is a versatile and fully-controllable environmental system and features vertical racks on tracks that can be moved together to save space and maximise production density as well as enable easier harvesting, whether automated or by hand.
The VydroFarm at the College will hold up to 132 plants and the College’s horticultural students will be growing leafy greens, salads and herbs. The time it will take for a crop to grow will be up to 20% less than growing via traditional farming methods while also using less water. In addition, the amount of time between harvesting and serving can be minimised to ensure that fresh ingredients are available all year round.
Stephen Fry, commercial sales manager for HydroGarden, said "Utilising VydroFarm in a catering environment is just one of the applications through which it could make a significant contribution to providing sustainable solutions for future food production".