Cymraeg

Tech Tyfu

Continuing with our work to demystify the work that goes on at M-SParc, we spoke (over Zoom!) with Luke Tyler, who leads the Tech Tyfu pilot scheme.

Who?
Tech Tyfu is a vertical farming pilot scheme, delivered through Menter Môn – a non-profit social enterprise seeking to address challenges facing rural areas. Tech Tyfu is exploring the potential for hydroponics technology in the food production sector in Wales.
Hydroponics is a way of growing crops without soil, but instead using a mineral nutrient and water. Vertical farming is a way of controlling the growth of crops by growing them in stacked layers. Combining both, this is way of optimizing plant growth. Specifically, Tech Tyfu is looking to develop and optimise the technology itself for production which would suit the local food sector, and develop viable routes to market for vertically farmed produce.
Work began in January this year, and a busy schedule of online workshops, collaborations and partnerships with different growers and organisations is planned for the next couple of years.

Innovation
Vertical farming is usually seen as an urban food production technique, so what are we doing out here on Ynys Mon promoting the technology? There is actually a mounting body of evidence that vertical farming may have great potential in rural economies. For starters, the value of the technology in producing high value food depends on the connections made with chefs, restaurants, shops and other retailers, rather than merely population density. In North Wales, we have some wonderful restaurants and high-end eating establishments, and it is connections with these that we hope to establish through our pilot scheme. Tech Tyfu is also working with various tech partners to develop the technology involved in vertical farming, which includes the LEDs, sensors, cameras and even AI!


James Hooton (Left) and Luke Tyler (Right) with some of the vertical farms.

Benefits of M-SParc?
M-SParc is a real hub of activity for technology, innovation and research which exists nowhere else in the region, and there are very few places of the same calibre in the UK (Luke would contend that no science park anywhere has views from the boardroom that are even faintly comparable!). At M-SParc, there are tech experts who have already proved most helpful to the Tech Tyfu project (particularly Rob Shepard from Evometric), and Tech Tyfu have had a number of productive talks with the team at BIC Innovation.
Luke noted “M-SParc staff have been really accommodating with regards to the project, and have been able to facilitate access and storage of equipment whenever necessary. This last week a vertical farm on a trailer just managed to fit out of the workshop doors, which I doubt would be managed in many other places! As a keen cyclist, I’ve been delighted with the provisions made to encourage commuting by bike. Showers and lockers are located right next to bike storage, which means I can freshen up after my commute in time for meetings. I have never had a working environment which has been so cycle-friendly before and this means a great deal to me, especially as we try to cut down on car use.”

What next?
We’ve recently seen vertically farmed crops from our project on the shelves in local shops, which has been a really positive milestone. We are now looking forward to going for a meal out at a local restaurant to see our vertically farmed pea shoots or baby leeks served up in front of us!


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