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Vertical farm looks for seed capital to take off

Business

A Gold Coast vertical farm company is after $10 million in backing to expand a business that skirts around the current labour shortage and the weather impacts from climate change.

 

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Stacked Farm has started developing a new $13 million vertical farm at Arundel, on the Gold Coast, which will be 10 times the size of its existing facility.

While vertical farms are common in Asia, the industry is relatively new in Australia however smaller modular farms are already being used by restaurants.

Stacked Farm chief executive Conrad Smith said the public was also concerned about global climate change issues in traditional farming and the fully-automated “urban farming” was more important than ever in securing an uninterrupted food supply.

The company said the new $13 million facility on the Gold Coast would be fully operational early next year with a 4000 square metre footprint.

“Vertical farming is the future as there is more concern than ever around who is handling your food, where it’s coming from and how many stops it has made before arriving on supermarket shelves,” said.

“Demand is such that supply contracts are in place with Morco Fresh, with a number more currently being finalised.

“The farm is commercially viable, scalable and competitive,” he said.

Smith said vertical farming used 95 per cent less water than traditional farming, considerably less space and was able to produce a crop about three times faster. A crop can go from seed to harvest in three weeks. It also cuts out the need to wash produce after harvest.

“Right now we are seeing a major spike in interest due to ensuring control over food security, food quality and food safety,” Smith said.

“One of the big draw cards is that from seed to packaging it’s fully automated and not once touched by the hand.

“It also alleviates supply shortages or gluts, highlighted during the pandemic.

“Compared with traditional farming we turn around a crop in a much shorter amount of time. It is also possible to quickly pivot supply to meet the demands of the market.”

One of the big upgrades in the past 12 months has been delivering the same output while significantly drawing less energy, which is central to its skyrocketing commercial viability.

“We take sustainability very seriously and will be only using renewable biogas to power the farm,” he said.

“Water is always going to be an issue in Australia – it’s our most valuable commodity. Efficient water usage is just one of the sustainable aspects that makes this operation appealing to food wholesalers in Australia.

“It’s great for growing in the city, as we can deliver within kilometres of the produce being grown.”

Stacked Farm has expanded its partnership with Morco Fresh, which supplies supermarkets, airline carriers, mining contractors, restaurants, hotels and pubs across the country offering reliability to deliver produce to businesses with complex supply chains.

 

 

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