H20-ganics develops innovative fresh produce facility with Arctica Ltd

H20-ganics develops innovative fresh produce facility with Arctica Ltd

Stamford-based design firm Arctica, is assisting a fresh produce grower with an innovative new UK facility for growing green leaf salad and herbs all-year-round.

Planning has been granted for hydroponics grower, H20-ganics, to build a new greenhouse facility, at Moulton College in Northamptonshire, to showcase innovative technology for growing delicate green leaf under controlled conditions.

Arctica delivered the drawings required to get the project into planning and is now examining work flows to optimise them for more efficient processing. Arctica is also assisting in the fit-out of the building with appropriate technology to provide the best possible facility – including lighting and ventilation.

Arctica director Niall McQuitty said: “Green leaf salad is normally grown outside. The clock starts ticking on the product’s shelf life as soon as it is harvested. Green leaf coming from other markets – such as Spain – takes 24 hours to transport to processing facilities in the UK. It can take up to three days from picking to packing which means, by the time it’s in the shops, it has lost up to half its shelf life.

“Cleaning the leaf also has an impact on the quality of the produce. Washing, drying, mixing, bagging and transport all require care because the leaf is fragile and prone to damage – which also reduces shelf life. H20-ganics creates a high care environment in which to grow the leaf that removes most of these stages from the process. It can be harvested, cleaned and packed without losing quality, thereby increasing its shelf life.”

H2O-ganics has developed a technology to produce clean grown salads and herb products by combining the benefits of hydroponic systems with controlled environment agriculture and clean room technologies to create a high care food production facility.

This proof of concept facility will see leaf going into the retail market. Once established, the system will be used to grow a full range of green salads and herbs for sale in supermarkets.

H20-ganics’ Nick Bateman said: “H2O-ganics produce is not grown in soil but produced in a fully controlled clean environment, which keeps out pests and pathogens, while maintaining the optimum conditions for plant growth.

“The unique combination of technologies, for which we have a technology patent pending, allows product to be grown year-round, in the UK, with secure supply chain and efficient production process.

“Using our controlled environment approach to agriculture and clean room technology, we are able to produce a consistent specification of product 365 days of the year, without the use of pesticides.”

Arctica began work on the project after a meeting at Foodex in April 2016 and the development is due for completion at the end of 2018 or early 2019.

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