M&S has partnered with Infarm - one of the world's leading urban farming platforms - to deliver a range of fresh produce grown and harvested in a selection of M&S' London stores.
Six stores to trial six herb range
The range includes a selection of fresh herbs - basils, mint, parsleys and coriander - grown in a special cabinet at M&S’ newly re-opened Clapham Junction store in South West London. M&S plans to roll out the vertical farming units set to a further six London stores by the end of the year, including Kensington, Marble Arch and Brent Cross. The herbs are all prices at £1.20.
Infarm’s technology combines highly efficient vertical farming units with the latest IOT (Internet of Things) technologies and machine learning, to create 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, adjusts and continuously improves to ensure each plant grows better than the last one. Infarm says each in-store farm unit uses 95% less water and 75% 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.
European wide platform
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 farm. The plants retain their roots post-harvest to maintain exceptional flavour and freshness. Founded in 2013, infarm is one of the world’s largest urban farming platforms harvesting and distributing more than 200,000 plants each month across its network. Infarm currently operates across Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom where it has deployed more than 500 farms in stores and distribution centres.
New-Look Clapham Junction store
The in-store farming unit is just one element of M&S's newly reopened Clapham Junction store. Renamed SW11, the store is the second iteration of M&S's new look Food Renewal design first unveiled at its new Hempstead Valley store in July. Like Hempstead Valley, Clapham Junction features a much more vibrant design, a large market style fresh food display and a new bakery but also includes some other innovations, including a water refill station and a striking glitter ball pizza oven.
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