Glowfarms to build indoor farm of the future

Frontrunner in vertical farming takes next step in mission towards sustainable food supply

Leerdam, June 23rd 2022 - Indoor farmer Glowfarms grows from small to large. Just like their plants. And just as sustainable. What's more, the new indoor farm in Leerdam will be the most advanced vertical farm in Europe thanks to Glowfarms' unique cultivation technique - a conveyer-belt moving the crop up and down. Curtesy of the idealistic outlook of two twenty-something entrepreneurs, who proudly call themselves ‘the farmers of the future'. In their mission towards sustainable food supply they grow a constant quality product without pesticides and economical use of water. Extraordinary farmers, because these agriculturists won't complain about wet or dry. They'll take care of the sun and rain themselves.

Recipe for success
The recipe for success lies in Glowfarms' unique cultivation method: an advanced conveyer belt that takes lettuce and herbs on a journey moving up and down - a kind of green, slow motion rollercoaster ride - until the plants are ready to harvest: after about 23 days for lettuce and 35 for herbs. Along the way, crops are provided with exact amounts of warmth, light and moisture. The technology certainly lives up to the name vertical farming, as the conveyer belt rises 6 meters into the air - saving square meters in floor space. The advantages: 95 percent less water use, no use of pesticides, no impact on scarce agricultural land and lower CO2 in comparison to regular agriculture. Sustainable and healthy. And with the advantage of being independent of the weather or the seasons, resulting in a stable price and quality all year round.

Scale up
Glowfarms is scaling up from a modest pilot farm of 110 square meters in Hoorn, North-Holland, to no less than 2700 square meters in Leerdam, Utrecht. With the pilot, Glowfarms has proved it can deliver the required yield and quality to make this manner of vertical farming profitable on a larger scale, incorporating all practical experience with technology, efficiency, and growth process from the pilot into the new farm. The scale-up means literal growth, too: while the pilot comprised one conveyer-belt, the new indoor farm has space for eight, much larger, belts, together capable of yielding 1,000 kilos of lettuce and herbs per day. With twenty employees, this young company aims to work towards a fully automated process for growing crop from seeds.

Sustainable mission
Glowfarms not only grows food, it also grows opportunities. The scale-up is the sum of ideals, ambitions, and steady entrepreneurship. Founders are Ben Pieterse (27) and Luc de Vries (26). Ben studied Sustainability and Management and acquired first-hand experience with indoor farming in the Netherlands and abroad. Luc holds a bachelor in Sustainable Development and a master's degree in Finance, working as an M&A consultant afterwards. Together, they formed Glowfarms' mission: to make sustainable impact in the food sector. "Change is much needed, the current system is failing. The world' growing population, climate change, and soil depletion will give rise to enormous challenges for global food security," says Ben. "So much comes together in vertical farming: saving land, resources. Feeding more mouths, because of the higher yield per square meter. Pesticides are no longer necessary. We also contribute to reducing food waste and shortening chains. We dream of buying up the square miles we save and giving it back to nature."
The two young entrepreneurs want to roll out their concept worldwide. "Plant-based food is the future," says Luc. "Our ambition is to set up farms all over the world: the next one could very well be built abroad. In addition to building farms, we also want to enable parties to use Glowfarms technology as a service in the future."

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"Smart farming" is an important part of the answer to this existential question: Extremely high efficiency in food production through the targeted use of the latest technology, computer-supported and - where possible - fully automatic. Seeds are individually and precisely placed; fruits carefully picked by mechanical grippers; fertilizers and plant protection products applied in small doses and in a targeted manner. These operations require a large number of small electric motors that are both robust and powerful.