UpRooted Farms is an urban vertical farm where modern day farmers, Phillippe Hohlfeld and Tobias Hoering, cultivate tasty leafy green salads in a perfect growing environment. The inspiration for the business came when Tobias went on a beer brewing course and was shocked by the phenomenal amount of water wasted in the process. Why not capture it and use it to grow year-round, high quality vegetables?
They researched how to grow sustainable and high quality produce and discovered controlled environment agriculture, sometimes known as precision agriculture, and were excited at the prospect of growing vegetables to a consistently high specification, regardless of season or weather. Their original idea for a beer brewing business was cast aside and they geared up for vertical farming.
How did UpRooted Farms discover LAFIC?
From 2017 to 2019, Philippe and Tobias grew samples and secured interest from high end restaurants, including their main customer Ottolenghi. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit they knew that to survive they must pivot to the retail market. Among the new challenges of going into retail were a whole host of food safety issues that they had not yet had to deal with. Fortunately, had they heard about the LAFIC (London Agri-Food Innovation Clinic) project delivered by London South Bank University who they knew would be able to help.
Once registered for support in January 2021, LAFIC’s food technologist, Yabby Miedzianowska, identified a series of rigorous processes they needed to go through to achieve the standard required to sell to reputable retailers. Yabby provided expert advice to enable them to specify requirements for nutritional and microbiological analysis and interpret the results. She also supported them with a 10 day shelf-life analysis, a HACCP review and readiness for SALSA accreditation.
Phillippe explained that they feel LAFIC has helped them to take a massive step forward as they are now confident in the safety of their produce. They now also know what they need to put on their labels and what safety and nutritional claims they can make.
Philippe said: “The LAFIC team really gave us the scientific proof of the merits of our salad leaves. We have already launched on Farmdrop and we are so confident in our sustainable and growing range of fresh and consistently high quality produce that we are gearing up for higher scale production.
The engineering drawings are complete for a facility that will enable us to deliver to mainstream retail. We are in the process of securing investments and we hope to be up and running and supplying high end retailers.”
For exciting updates or to find out how you can grab yourself a bag, head on over to UpRooted Farms.
As for LAFIC, sadly this programme has come to an end, but we still strive towards collaboration and bringing our experts at London South Bank University together to support your business. So to start your development journey why not connect with us today.