A new ‘vertical farm’ in Lydney will revolutionise food production and represents “a coming of age in agricultural technology’ says the man behind it.

The Jones Food Company has opened “JFC2” on the site of the former JD Norman foundary on the outskirts of the town.

Company founder and chief executive James Lloyd-Jones, said: “This farm represents a coming-of-age for agricultural technology in the UK.

“We have now cracked the code for accessible, sustainable, premium food being grown all-year round, at a super-competitive price. Commercial success in this sector has always been the challenge, but this farm smashes it.”

In vertical farms, crops such as salad leaves are grown indoors in stacked layers.

Mr Lloyd-Jones founded the company in 2017 and opened the first farm – JFC1 - in Lincolnshire a year later.

The backing of retailer Ocado two was secured in 2019.

The Lydney farm uses 100 per cent renewably-sourced energy to grow crops vertically, including basil, coriander, flat-leaf parsley, dill, green lettuce, red lettuce, baby leaf pak   choi,  bull’s blood, mizuna, komatsuna  – commonly known as Japanese spinach – and baby leaf cress, a variety of watercress.

Mr Jones Lloyd-Jones added: “There is a place for small urban vertical farms, but size, scale and affordability are how the vf revolution really delivers. 

“Technology and sustainability, when married at this kind of scale, revolutionise food production, combat climate change, ensure food security, address labour issues and maximise efficiency. 

“It’s a win-win-win-win.

“JFC2 leverages the UK’s world-renowned tech know-how, passion for plants and desire to reduce import dependence to radically evolve how we grow consistently high-quality, well-priced food at scale. 

“By balancing automation and smart investments, we are ideally suited to work with the distribution networks of the large retailers, ensuring product is available for all.

The company’s head of growing, Glyn Stephens, sajd, “A lot of vertical farmers have focused on lights, but temperature and humidity control are where the real energy guzzle has traditionally been  this is why it’s been a core focus for us opening this new site, its small changes and learnings from JFC1 that mean this system now accounts for a much smaller proportion of our energy usage.

“Irrigation is another massive innovation in this farm and the system in JFC2 is boundary-pushing, ground-breaking, utterly unique and another key brick in how we deliver premium product, at a great price, at scale. 

“These aren’t small steps, they are giant leaps which allow us to put ‘vertical farming and profitability’ into the same sentence for the first time!”

JFC2’s output now includes supplying own-label herbs as well as the company’s own Homegrown range of mixed salad bags and lēaf, its range of sauces and salad bags.

Ocado Group’s chief financial officer, Stephen Daintith said: “At Ocado Group, we are passionate about the long-term potential of vertical farming for both the food industry and for the environment. JFC’s second vertical farm, JFC2, is an important strategic investment for Ocado and represents a significant step forward in this exciting and transformational space. 

“We are confident in JFC’s leadership and on their ability to execute on their vision – we look forward to supporting them on the way ahead.