Marks & Spencer is set to introduce urban farming across a selection of its food stores in London as part of a new partnership.
Starting from today, customers can find a range of fresh herbs growing in vertical farming units in-store.
The first store to implement the new urban farming concept is M&S’s newly re-opened Clapham Junction store in south west London.
As part of the new partnership with urban farming platform Infarm, the concept will be rolled out to a further six London M&S Food stores by the end of the year.
The herbs on offer in the urban farming units include basil, mint, parsley and coriander.
Infarm’s urban farming technology combines vertical farming units with the latest technologies and AI to deliver a controlled eco-system with the right amount of light, air and nutrients.
Each unit is remotely controlled using a cloud-based platform, which learns, adjusts and continuously improves so each plant – which retain their roots post-harvest to maintain flavour – grows better than the last one.
Each in-store farm unit uses 95 per cent less water and 75 per cent less fertiliser than traditional soil-based agriculture.
It is also capable of producing the equivalent of 400 square meters of farmland, resulting in a more sustainable use of natural resources and zero pesticide use.
“Infarm’s innovative farming platform is a fantastic example of what can happen when passionate agricultural, food and technology experts work together,” M&S food technology director Paul Willgoss said.
“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, whilst also delivering fantastic products with exceptional taste, quality and freshness for our customers.”
M&S is the first UK retailer to work with Infarm and 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 visit the stores at least twice a week to harvest and add new seedlings to the vertical farms.
Source: Retail Gazette