M&S to grow and harvest herbs in-store
Marks & Spencer Food (M&S) is partnering with Infarm – an urban farming platform – to deliver fresh produce grown and harvested in a selection of M&S’ London stores.
A range of fresh herbs, including Italian, Greek and Bordeaux Basils, Mint, Curly Parsley and Mountain Coriander, will be growing at M&S’ Clapham Junction store, with Infarm vertical farming units set to be installed in a further six London stores.
“London represents many of the sustainability challenges that people will experience in cities over the next several decades,” said Erez Galonska, Co-Founder and CEO of Infarm. “By offering produce grown and harvested in the heart of the city, we want to practice a form of agriculture that is resilient, sustainable and beneficial to our planet while meeting the needs of urban communities.”
Infarm’s farming technology combines vertical farming units with Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and machine learning, to deliver a controlled eco-system with the optimum amount of light, air and nutrients. Each unit is remotely controlled using a cloud-based platform, which learns, adapts and improves to ensure each plant grows better than the last one.
“Infarm’s farming platform is an example of what can happen when agricultural, food and technology experts work together. We operate as part of a complex global food supply chain and want to understand the emerging technologies that could help provide more sustainable solutions,” commented Paul Willgoss, Director of Food Technology, M&S Food.
Each in-store farm unit uses 95 percent less water and 75 percent less fertiliser than traditional soil-based agriculture and is capable of producing the equivalent of 400 square meters of farmland, resulting in a more sustainable use of natural resources and ensuring zero pesticide use.
M&S is the first UK retailer to work with Infarm, with Infarm modular farms already having been installed across Europe.
The partnership will be supported by the construction of a series of Infarm distribution centres in and around London. These central hubs will provide the seedlings for each unit, which are then grown in store. Infarm farmers will then visit the stores at least twice a week to harvest and add new seedlings to maintain the farms outputs.