Ooh, how interesting…

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OK, so what’s with the pictures of leaves?

Using a process called ‘controlled environment agriculture’ (CEA) we grow salad leaves (small ones, known as microgreens), which over the last 3 years we’ve sold to some of the best and most sutainable restaurants and shops in the city. The beautiful colours that you see on the leaves are all natural, enhanced by the special LEDs we use to grow them. Oh, and they taste amazing too. The microgreens, not the LEDs.

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Woah, you’re growing plants with LEDs?

That’s right! Growing plants with LEDs means you can do all sorts of amazing things, like speed up and slow down the rate of growth, change the flavours and nutritional content of the plants you’re growing, and of course it means you can grow plants at night too! We make our own seasons, so you can grow crops all year round. The technology is still quite new, but we think a lot of plant-based farming will be done like this in the future.

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Right, so what is controlled environment agriculture?

CEA is the process of controlling all of the variables in a farming operation using technology. Just like in the natural world, these variables will include the temperature (air, nutrient solution, root-zone and leaf), humidity, carbon dioxide, light (duration, intensity, spectrum and intervals), nutrient concentration, nutrient pH (acidity) and of course, anything else that’s in the environment like insects (which can prevent certain pests from eating all of the crops). However, CEA is just one part of Grow Bristol’s business. We’re also focused on how these technologies integrate with circular economy principles.

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Smart Urban Farming For a Better City

Circular economy, what’s that?

A circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital. It is based on three principles:

  • Design out waste and pollution

  • Keep products and materials in use

  • Regenerate natural systems

Grow Bristol is pioneering a new urban farming model that combines these principles with the technological benefits of controlled environment agriculture, in order to create greater resilience and equity within city-based food chains.