We are proud to present UrbanFarmers as the company of the month October because of its innovative and future-proof solutions for food production. UrbanFarmers (UF) develops and operates urban farms under the UF brand and provides engineering, construction, procurement and operations services to developers as a turn-key contractor. UF technological core competence is system development and integration and UF’s proprietary control and monitoring software (“UF controller”) to balance and optimize complex biological farm systems. At the UF System core is a production technique called Aquaponics; a recirculating aquaculture system to use discharge wastewater as organic fertilizer for plants, providing significant water and fertilizer savings. The ultra-fresh and ultra-local vegetables and fish produced are sold to food retail chains, local leading restaurants and directly to consumers under the UF brand.
History of UrbanFarmers
Established in 2011, UrbanFarmers has attracted global attention with its vision to build rooftop farms in cities. Since 2012, UF owns and operates the worldwide first commercial-scale, industrialized aquaponics rooftop farm, ‘UF001 LokDepot’, in Basel, Switzerland. In 2013, the municipality of The Hague launched the Stadlandsbouw Initiative to identify potential urban farming tenants for the vacant building ‘De Schilde’. In this selection process, UF was awarded the space of its rooftop and 6th floor to develop the largest commercial urban rooftop farm in Europe, ‘UF002 De Schilde’. Since then, UF has secured the necessary finance and building permissions to proceed with construction at the end of 2015.
Image: UF De Schilde: the striking design of Europe’s largest commercial rooftop urban farm, pioneered by Space&Matter Architects (photo: space&matter)
Business in WestHolland
“The Netherlands has a worldwide reputation in food production; it has the world’s most advanced international food production cluster. The location of UF002 De Schilde makes it the ideal strategic position for UrbanFarmers; a flagship rooftop urban farm in the center of all the greenhouse technology and horticulture optimization of the Westland/Eastland. Companies and growers in The Netherlands are well known for teaming up to develop innovation and drive growth, which presents the opportunity to build an urban agriculture hub for UrbanFarmers”, according to Mark Durno, Managing Director of UrbanFarmers. “UrbanFarmers has initiated the UF Consortium, a partnership of multinational companies focusing on urban farming techniques together (UF Consortium: UrbanFarmers AG, Koppert Biological Control Systems, Priva and Rijk Zwaan)”.
WestHolland Foreign Investment Agency
“However, setting up a company in a new country is never an easy task. During UF’s development in the Netherlands, The WestHolland Foreign Investment Agency (WFIA) and InnovationQuarter have given their hand providing guidance and support. They introduced local stakeholders to UF, championed this project and the company, and provided opportunities for UF to present to decision makers. WFIA has played the role of cheerleader and advisor in helping UF to score new business in The Hague”, says Durno.
Image: Skybreaking ceremony of UF002 De Schilde on 14th Sep. From left to right: Maren Schoormans (Koppert), Peter Jens (PuraNatura), Richard Luijges (SVn, investor), Sil Mantel (space&matter, architects), Mark Durno (Managing Director of UrbanFarmers) and Joris Wijsmuller (Deputy Mayor of The Hague) (Photo: Natalie Mcllroy).
UF002 De Schilde is currently under construction and will be open in Spring 2016. This farm will not only be a site for production, but also a hotspot for tours and events around urban food discussion. Citizens and visitors of The Hague will be able to see and taste the ultra fresh products on the farm, in local leading restaurants spread in the city and also by participating in our Fresh Revolution Campaign to be launched in November 2015. UF want to launch the ultra-fresh and ultra-local products for The Hague and to make De Schilde a European lighthouse for urban farming. “By building on the UF brand and experience at UF002 De Schilde, we intend to open more rooftop farms delivering to local neighborhoods in Dutch cities.”